On January 31, 1972, noted soul singer Al Green released the album Let’s Stay Together. The title track had been released as a single in November and would go on to become a number one chart topper. Born in 1946 Arkansas to a poor sharecropper and his wife, Green began recording in 1967 with a group of high school friends.
By 1974, Green was on top, with seven critically and commercially successful albums and a slew of hit singles under his belt.
Mary Woodson White.
Green initially met White at a concert in Upstate New York. White was a married woman, but she and Green quickly began a torrid love affair. White became obsessed with Green, and asked him to marry her. Green, however, turned her down, enraging her.
On October 18, 1974, after returning to his Memphis home from a concert in San Francisco, Green was relaxing in the bathtub when White burst in and threw a potful of boiling hot grits on the singer, causing severe burns to his back, arms, and abdomen which required several months of hospitalization.
After assaulting Green, White retreated to the bedroom, retrieved Green’s .38 revolver and committed suicide.
The attack left Green deeply disturbed, and is often cited as a catalyst for his becoming a born-again Christian. In 1976, Green was ordained a minister. In 1979, Green fell off the stage during a concert and interpreted it as a message from God. During the eighties, he focused on his church while recording several gospel albums.
Green’s ex-wife Shirley Kyles, whom he married in 1977, filed for divorce in 1983 and alleged that Green had abused her.
Whether that is true or not is unknown. Green, however, remains today one of the world’s most beloved soul singers.