Green formed a group called Al Green & the Creations in high school. Curtis Rogers and Palmer James, two members of the Creations, formed an independent label called Hot Line Music Journal. The band, now known as the Soul Mates, recorded "Back Up Train" and released it on Hot Line Music; the song was a R&B hit. The Soul Mates' subsequent singles did not sell as well. Al Green met Willie Mitchell of Hi Record in 1969, and signed with the label.
Green's debut album with Hi Records was Green is Blue, a slow, horn-riven groovy album that allowed Green to show off his powerful and expressive voice. The album was a moderate success. The next LP, though, Al Green Gets Next To You (1970), was a massive success that included four gold singles. Let's Stay Together (1972) was an even bigger success, as was I'm Still In Love With You (1972). Call Me was a critical sensation, and was also just as popular at the time; it is one of his most fondly remembered albums today.
In 1974, Green's girlfriend, Mary Woodson, poured boiling grits on him as he was showering, causing second-degree burns on his back, stomach and arm, then killed herself. Green converted to Christianity after recovering from the assault and became a pastor in Memphis, Tennessee. Continuing to record R&B, Green saw his sales start to slip and the critics grew steadily harsher. 1977's The Belle Album was critically acclaimed but did not regain his former mass audience. In 1979, Green was injured in concert and interpreted this as a sign from God. He began a career as a preacher and gospel singer, also appearing with Patti Labelle in the musical Your Arm's Too Short to Box With God. His first gospel album was He Is the Light.
After spending several years on gospel, Green began to return to R&B. First, he released a duet with Annie Lennox, "Put A Little Love In Your Heart" for Scrooged, a Bill Murray film. His first secular album in some time was Your Heart's In Good Hands (1995), released to positive reviews but disappointing sales, the same year Green was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.