Al Green

For many music fans, Al Green was the dominant voice in soul music during the 1970s, thanks to his silky vocals and simmering production on such classics as "Call Me," "Let's Get Married," "Let's Stay Together," "Take Me to the River" and "Here I Am (Come and Take Me)." Green began singing gospel as a youth, and like Ray Charles and Sam Cooke before him, brought the intensity of church music to his paeans to late-night love. After a slow start in the late 1960s, he hit his stride with 1972's Let's Stay Together, which generated a chart-topping single with the title track. From 1973 to 1976, Green dominated the R&B charts while also enjoying considerable success in the pop field. But an injurious assault by a girlfriend who then committed suicide left Green feeling unmoored for the remainder of the decade. To soothe his soul, he became an ordained preacher in 1979 while abandoning soul for gospel through much of the 1980s. He made a tentative return to secular recordings in 1989 before committing himself fully to soul in 1994. Green struggled to land a hit until 2008, when Lay It Down became his first record to break into the Top 10 on the albums chart in over 35 years. Though he experienced numerous highs and lows throughout his career, Al Green's sweet, soulful and undeniably sexy voice remained his greatest strength.