The Grammy Award-winning producer – who was best known as one of the Mighty Three co-creators of the Sound of Philadelphia along with Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff – passed away on Thursday (22.12.22) at the age of 79.
No cause of death was given but Thom’s publicist said he passed away at his home in Bellingham, Washington.
As well as working with Kenny and Leon on tracks including the O’Jays’ ‘Back Stabbers’ and Harold Melvina and the Blue Notes’ ‘I Miss You’, Thom – who was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2006 – also wrote a string of hits for the likes of The Delfonics, The Stylistics, and The Spinners in the late 1960s and 70s.
Thom went on to compose and produce albums for the likes of The Temptations, Johnny Mathis, Sir Elton John and Joss Stone, and received a lifetime achievement honor from the Recording Academy in the form of a trustees’ award in 2017 after previously being honored with the first non-classical producer of the year accolade at the 1975 Grammy Awards.
He is survived by his wife, Vanessa Bell, and children Royal, Troy, Tia, Mark, Cybell and Christopher.
Both Kenny and Leon have paid tribute to their late friend and collaborator.
Kenny said: “Tommy and I have been best friends for over 60 years.
“When we first met, we decided to start writing songs together and form a singing duo ‘Kenny and Tommy’ and then our band the Romeos. Leon Huff and I were proud to have him as part of our Mighty Three music writing team, which helped create our signature brand of TSOP. He was a great talent and my dear friend. The name of Gamble Huff and Bell will last forever. Rest in peace buddy!”
Leon added: “Thom Bell was my favorite musician, arranger, songwriter and music producer of all time. It was my esteem, honor and pleasure to work with him creatively and as a business partner. Rest in peace.”