He is a singer-songwriter, guitarist, conga player,
actor and DJ born in Brooklyn, New York, who got his first taste of the
stage as a performer when he was just 4 years old.
After leaving school he became a member of the United
States Marine Corps and over his six years in service he won 2 purple
hearts and 11 other decorations and combat awards. These years also brought him the
recognition of being the first black sergeant in the 1st Marine
Division in the Vietnam War.
After his return to civilian life he travelled to the
UK in 1971 and became involved in the folk music scene for a time. He performed with Rare Bird and
Richie Havens and in 1973 he began to work with the band Hawkwind as their
opener and would join with them on stage as a conga player. He continued to
do occasional performances with them up until the end of 1975.
He met up with the songwriter Pierre Tubbs and the two
of them began a collaboration that still continues today.
Spreading his wings as a solo artist he achieved
success in the UK and other European countries in 1975 with the song
“Fool” written by Pierre Tubbs. The flip side, “Don’t
Run From My Love” was one of his own compositions. This would prove to be his
only chart appearance but he continued to work in Britain in the stage and
He made appearances in the theatre, on television in
series such as Grange Hill, and acted in a production on Radio
4. He also became the first
black presenter on BBC Radio 1 and worked at London’s Capital Radio
for a decade where he saw his programme When the Spirit Moves being
awarded the title “best gospel music programme” every year for
Getting his name more widely known in the 1980s he
went back to America and started acting in the movies. He has had roles in The
Apocalypse Watch, Defence of the Realm, The Fifth Element, Omen III The
Final Conflict, Superman III and Tomorrow Never Dies and he is
perhaps best known for his role in 1986’s Aliens where he
played Sergeant Apone.
Al Matthews Recordings
Fool (Pierre Tubbs)
CBS 3429 (UK 45)
Don’t Run From My Love (Al Matthews)
CBS 3429 (CBS 3429)