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Rabid Fans, Revolving Door or Thug Promoter? : Why Al Green’s Arm Was Broken Before This ’74 Soul Train Performance: EUR Video Throwback

Al Green performs in a sling on "Soul Train"
Al Green performs in a sling on “Soul Train,” April 6, 1974

*On this day in 1974, Al Green gave a “Soul Train” performance for the ages, despite having had his arm broken by a gangster just weeks earlier. Or did something else cause the fracture?

Not too many acts performed live on Don Cornelius’ stage. Reportedly, most singers lip-synched because it was cheaper and less complicated to produce. But during this Saturday taping of the show, 27-year-old Green convinced Cornelius to allow his live performance of not one, but four songs: “Sweet Sixteen,” “Jesus is Waiting,” “Livin’ For You” and “Here I Am (Come and Take Me).”

Even more memorable was that Green performed with one hand holding a long stemmed rose, and his other arm in a sling. When asked point blank by “Soul Train” dancer James Phillips, “What happened to your arm?,” he told the audience it was fractured in Milwaukee by some wild fans as he entered his car. He said they “didn’t agree that I could leave at that time.”

However, his ex-girlfriend, legendary record promoter Linda Wills, said in her 2015 book that Green claimed he broke his arm going through a revolving door.

But according to Green’s touring band, neither of those stories is true.

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Days before this “Soul Train” performance (watch above), Green had also worn a sling while performing at LA’s Sybil Brand women’s prison, and during a show in Bakersfield, CA, according to the blog farm2turntable. Members of Green’s touring band, Enterprise Orchestra, claim the injury happened weeks before in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, when Green tried to cancel a performance and had his arm broken by someone associated with the promoter.

In Jimmy McDonough’s 2017 biography of Al Green, “Soul Survivor,” alto sax player Buddy Jarrett says that for two years, Green and the band played a string of theaters-in-the-round that were run by sketchy characters. Jarrett recalls Green backstage in Fort Lauderdale’s venue saying, “I don’t feel good. I don’t feel like singing tonight,” which prompted “the largest human I’ve ever seen” to shove Green into the dressing room. About ten minutes after the goon left, a doctor entered the dressing room, stayed for a bit and then exited. Jarrett said several minutes later, Green finally emerged with his arm in a cast.

“Al got a little chesty. They took somebody to see his ass,” Jarrett recalled.

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