University of Arkansas

Walton College

The Sam M. Walton College of Business

Al Bell


Al Bell

Former Owner
Stax Records

President and Chief Executive Officer
Al Bell Presents


Throughout his career, Bell has been considered a visionary, a seer, an icon, a music mogul, a communications and entertainment maverick and a legend, which is how most people throughout the industry view him today. He currently serves as president and chief executive officer of Al Bell Presents LLC, a new “rare performing artist” career and business development paradigm.

In the 1970's, two of the largest African-American owned businesses in America were Motown Records and Stax Records. Bell, who owned Stax, introduced marketing and promotional innovations that changed the music industry. Stax produced gold and platinum hits with Isaac Hayes, the Staple Singers, Johnny Taylor, Sam and Dave, Booker T and the MGs, the Bar Kays, Otis Redding, The Emotions, Carla Thomas, Rufus Thomas, Richard Pryor, Billy Eckstine, Albert King, The Dramatics and others.

Stax Records worked with Melvin Van Peebles on the release of his revolutionary film Sweetback and with MGM Studios on the release of the film Shaft. Bell successfully marketed the theme from Shaft performed by Isaac Hayes, which won an Oscar for Best Original Song. As a result, he became the first African American to win that honor – or any other Academy Award – in a non-acting category.

In the 1980s, Bell became president of the Motown Records Group. After that, Bell discovered the music group Tag Team and released Whoomp! There It Is, which sold over 5 million copies and remains one of the biggest-selling singles in history. Then, Bell was asked by the artist Prince to release The Most Beautiful Girl in the World, giving Prince his biggest-selling single ever.

Bell has received many honors and awards, including the National Award of Achievement from the U.S. Department of Commerce. He has been listed in Who’s Who in Black America and was honored by Black Enterprise magazine in 1972 and 1973 as No. 2 in the Top 100 Black-Owned Businesses. Ebony magazine honored him in 1972 as one of the Top 100 Most Influential Black Men and in 1973 as one of the Top 1000 Most Successful Black Men in the World. He received an Achievement Award from the Boy Scouts of America in 1975, the Alex Haley Roots Award from the Greater Washington D.C. Business Center in 1977, and the W.C. Handy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002.

Bell was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2002, received the Arthur A. Fletcher Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Black Chamber of Commerce in 2008, and received honorary doctorate degrees from Philander Smith College in 1972 and 2011. In 2011, Bell received the highest honor the music industry bestows, the GRAMMY Trustees Award. He also received the Lifetime Achievement Award from National Association of Blacks in Higher Education in 2012 and was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of Black Accountants in 2012. Also in 2012, he was recognized and honored during “An Evening With Al Bell” at the University of Arkansas.


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