It’s no secret that Justin Timberlake considers the Reverend Al Green as one of his main influences, but the “Suit & Tie” singer admits adopting some stalker-like traits when trying to track the whereabouts of his fellow Memphis-bred soul artist.
Timberlake opened up about his obsession with Green at the White House Tuesday during the workshop “Soulsville, USA: The History Of Memphis Soul” event hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama.
While on a panel with other Memphis legends Sam Moore, Mavis Staples, Charlie Musselwhite and Ben Harper, Timberlake recalled learning that he lived near Green.
“When I was really young, about 10, I found out that there was a reverend that lived about – I drove it out – 7 to 8 minutes from my house. Some might call that stalking, I just call it driving by to see where he lived,” Timberlake said. “But I found out that the Reverend Al Green lived down the street from me.”
Timberlake, who grew up in Shelby Forest, Tennessee, said he would also lookout for Green at a local market. “There was a general store,” he said. “You used to go down the store just to see if the Reverend Al Green would drive by.”
Timberlake also discussed having the dream opportunity to perform with Green at the Grammys in 2009. Timberlake said when a few scheduled performers had to back out at the last minute, he was asked to play another song. When he saw Green’s name on the list of presenters for the night, he asked the Grammy organizers to make the request.
Just two-in-a half hours before show time, Timberlake asked Keith Urban and Boyz II Men to join him and they began rehearsing.
“Somewhere around 3:45, you see this mink coat coming down from the rafters, almost like the angels,” he said. “He comes running onto the stage and – I obviously met him many times before being from the same city – he goes, ‘Justin! Justin! It’s so good to see [you]. I’m sorry, I’m late. They called me. I was in the tub.’ And I am taken aback from his entrace. Now, I have a visual of a holy, bath full of bubbles, and the Reverend Al Green gets a phone call and he runs into his closet -- cause this is how my sketch comedy mind works -- and he runs into his closet as Clark Kent and comes back as Superman in a mink coat. We ran through half of the song (“Let’s Stay Together”) and talked about where we’d trade verses. ... We didn’t actually get to rehearse the whole song.”
The panelist were also scheduled to perform in the event’s "In Performance at the White House: Memphis Soul.”