William Bell (born July 16, 1939) is an American soul singer and songwriter, and one of the architects of the Stax-Volt sound. As a performer, he is probably best known for 1961’s “You Don’t Miss Your Water” (his debut single); 1968’s “Private Number” (a duet with Judy Clay, and a top 10 hit in the UK); and 1976’s “Tryin’ To Love Two”, Bell’s only US top 40 hit, which also hit No. 1 on the R&B charts. Upon the death of Otis Redding, Bell released the well-received memorial song “A Tribute to a King”.
As a songwriter, Bell co-authored the Chuck Jackson hit “Any Other Way” (itself a cover, since Bell issued it first, as a follow-up to “You Don’t Miss Your Water”), Billy Idol’s 1986 hit “To Be a Lover” (originally a hit for Bell under its original title “I Forgot to Be Your Lover”), and the blues classic “Born Under A Bad Sign”, popularized by both Albert King and Cream.
Bell was born in Memphis, Tennessee. He took the last name “Bell” as a stage name in honor of his grandmother, whose first name was Belle.
In 1985, Bell founded the label Wilbe and issued Passion, which found its most receptive audiences in the UK (although “I Don’t Want to Wake Up Feeling Guilty,” a duet with Janice Bullock, was a minor U.S. hit).In 1986, The single “Headline News” entered the UK Singles Chart.