LeRoy Bell is an American singer and songwriter. He and friend Casey James formed the duo Bell and James, composing songs that were hits for other artists most notably two charting hit singles for Elton John. Later Bell with bassist Terry Morgan formed the group, LeRoy Bell & his Only Friends. In 2011, Bell auditioned for the American The X Factor and was chosen for the Final 16 and went on to the live shows being mentored by Nicole Scherzinger. He was eliminated after the ﬁfth live show ﬁnishing 8th overall in the inaugural season of the American The X Factor.
BELL AND JAMES
Bell and James was a duo soul group formed by LeRoy Bell (on drums and guitar) and Casey James (on guitar, bass and keyboards). They both had played in other bands together before they decided to team up as Bell & James. The duo released three albums: Bell & James (1978), Only Make Believe (1979) and In Black and White (1980), and had a number of singles, the most successful and well-known being “Livin’ It Up (Friday Night)” released on A&M Records. It reached #15 on the U.S. Hot 100.
LeRoy Bell also co-wrote many songs for others in partnership with Casey James. They were encouraged by LeRoy’s uncle Thom Bell who owned Mighty Three Music, a music publishing and production company along with Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. The latter were a famous composing duo collaboration Gamble and Huff to whom Bell and James provided some of their compositions. Their songs were recorded by a number of groups including:
The O’Jays (notably in “This Time Baby”) The Temptations
Gladys Knight & the Pips
The Three Degrees
WITH ELTON JOHN
Most notably, two of the LeRoy Bell songs were recorded by Elton John. One was “Mama Can’t Buy You Love” and the other “Are You Ready for Love”. The songs, a LeRoy Bell-Casey James co-composition appeared in the The Thom Bell Sessions in 1977. Elton John’s song version of “Mama Can’t Buy You Love” went to the Top 10 in the general charts and #1 the Adult/Contemporary chart and in the fall of 1979, earning Elton a Grammy Nomination for “Best Male R&B Vocal Performance”. His song “Are You Ready for Love” was even a bigger hit.
Tracklist of Elton John singles:
Side 1: “Are You Ready for Love” (LeRoy Bell, Thom Bell, Casey James) (8:31) Side 2.1: “Three Way Love Affair” (LeRoy Bell, Casey James) (5:31)
Side 2.2: “Mama Can’t Buy You Love” (LeRoy Bell, Casey James) (4:03)
In February 1989, The Complete Thom Bell Sessions was released by MCA Records, although it had been recorded in 1977. In addition to “Mama Can’t Buy You Love” and “Are You Ready for Love”, it featured three additional songs, including “Country Love Song” also co-written by LeRoy Bell.
1. “Nice and Slow” (Elton John, Bernie Taupin, Thom Bell)
2. “Country Love Song” (LeRoy Bell, Casey James)
3. “Shine on Through” (Elton John, G. Osborne)
4. “Mama Can’t Buy You Love” (LeRoy Bell, Casey James)
5. “Are You Ready for Love” (LeRoy Bell, Casey James)
6. “Three Way Love Affair” (LeRoy Bell, Casey James)
In 2003, Fat Boy Slim mixed Elton John’s single version making it to the British Singles Chart. The song also charted in many European charts.
WITH TEDDY PENDERGRASS
LeRoy Bell had a long-running cooperation with Teddy Pendergrass for whom he wrote 5 songs in three different albums:
1979: “I’ll Never See Heaven Again” on the album Teddy
1979: “Set Me Free”, also on album Teddy
1982: “Loving You Was Good” on album This One’s for You
1983: “Heaven Only Knows” from the album Heaven Only Knows (lead song) Pendergrass album
1990: “Glad to Be Alive” from the album Truly Blessed
1979: Lou Rawls: “Bark, Bite (Fight All Night)” on the album Let Me Be Good to You
1980: Lou Rawls: “Heartache (Just When You Think You’re Loved)” and “You Are” on album Sit Down and Talk to Me
1988: Kimiko Kasai: “Love Talk” from album Love Talk (lead song)
2001: Me and You: “You Never Know What You Got (Til It’s Gone)”
2002: Jennifer Lopez: “Still” cowritten with James and Jennifer Lopez herself in the latter’s album This Is Me… Then
2005: The Freemasons: “Love on My Mind” that appears on albums Shakedown, Unmixed and Shakedown 2
He has also written for Phyllis Hyman
Starting in the 2000s, he worked solo and toured extensively. In the process, he released various albums including his debut solo EP Spending Time (on his own