"As a songwriter he can easily take his place in that hallowed area occupied by the likes of Randy Newman, Bruce Cockburn and Tom Waits." - Musician Magazine.
Bell's songs have been performed and recorded by such diverse talents as Little Feat, Lyle Lovett and Nanci Griffith, and both a ballet and musical have been set to his work. Along with five critically acclaimed CDs and a live performance DVD, he is the author of an autobiography, One Man’s Music: The Life and Times of Texas Songwriter Vince Bell and one-man performance piece, One Man’s Music: A Monologue with Song.
"Vince is a poet," said the late Townes Van Zandt.
"His inner drive is Herculean, his tale-spinning gifts are hypnotic, and he’s got more soul than a Muscle Shoals church picnic. Bell’s vocal instrument is fairly reeking of the intense effort and passion with which it is charged. Bell’s music, while hauntingly beautiful, nevertheless creates an inescapable tension with his audience; there is an ever-present fear of falling which makes the listener lean into his songs, to urge them on while holding one’s breath . . . . This is truly a magical thing – it is show business, and it is dangerous.
- Jim Musser
Vince Bell spent the Seventies working the national coffeehouse circuit, playing “edge to edge” in the Lone Star state and sharing the stage with fellow travelers Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, and Lucinda Williams. The early Eighties found this native Texan’s star on a rapid rise. A nimble guitarist with a one-of-a-kind voice, his songwriting had drawn favorable comparisons to such disparate-but-remarkable tunesmiths as Randy Newman, Bruce Cockburn, and Tom Waits. A ballet, Bermuda Triangle, had been set to his work. And according to Nanci Griffith, who recorded Bell’s “Woman of the Phoenix” on her Grammy-winning album Other Voices/Other Rooms: “From all of us who were beating the paths around Texas in the Seventies, I always felt Vince was the best of us.”
The night of December 21, 1982, found Bell in the recording studio with hired guns Stevie Ray Vaughan and Eric Johnson. Driving home from the session, Bell was broadsided by a drunk driver. Thrown over 60 feet from his car, Bell suffered multiple lacerations to his liver, embedded glass, broken ribs, a mangled right forearm and a severe traumatic brain injury.
Awakening from a coma a month later, Bell embarked on a courageous, decade-long journey to reclaim his identity, his music, and his career. He would eventually document the whole terrifying but ultimately uplifting saga—with extraordinary candor and insight— in his gripping autobiography, One Man’s Music: The Life and Times of Texas Songwriter Vince Bell, published by the University of North Texas Press.
In 1994, with the aid of producer Bob Neuwirth and a gathering of musical luminaries and friends, Vince Bell punctuated his “second comeback” with the critically-acclaimed album Phoenix. Texas Plates, released in 1999, located Bell where he should have been all along—comfortably ensconced in the upper echelon of the songwriting guild and signed to a major record label (Warner Bros.). In the next ten years, Bell released three more recordings, and a live performance DVD, and toured a one-man performance piece: One Man’s Music: A Monologue with Song.
Bell, who plays extensively in the U.S. and Europe, has appeared on such nationally broadcast television and radio programs as Austin City Limits, Mountain Stage, World Café, In the Prime, Morning Edition, and several other NPR programs. Along with “Woman of the Phoenix," Nanci Griffith has also recorded Bell's "Sun & Moon & Stars," and Lyle Lovett has recorded both "I've Had Enough" on Step Inside This House, and "Sun & Moon & Stars" on Natural Forces.
In 2016 Rice University, Houston, Texas, asked that Bell donate his papers to the Woodson Library for their Houston Folk Music Archive. Almost fifty years of tapes, press, photographs and memorabilia are now digitized and available for research through the library, and the original materials are in storage at Rice where they can be viewed upon request.
Most recently Bell completed a book of prose, poetry and songs from which this newest recording, OJO, was taken. Recorded in New York City, produced by Bob Neuwirth, Dave Soldier, and Patrick Derivaz, the musicians created and improvised the music during the sessions.