Bristol was born February 3, 1939 in Morganton, North Carolina. After serving in the United States Air Force, Bristol recorded several singles before his label was absorbed by Motown Records in the mid-1960s. At Motown, he teamed with Harvey Fuqua to write and produce some of their biggest hits, including Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” (1967), Edwin Starr’s “Twenty – Five Miles” (1969), Jr. Walker & the All-Stars’ “What Does It Take (To Win Your Love)” (1969), and Gladys Knight & the Pips’ “I Don’t Want to Do Wrong” (1971).
Bristol left Motown in 1973 and resumed his recording career, scoring hits with “Hang on in There Baby” (1974) and “Do It to My Mind” (1976). In 1975, he was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best New Artist. Bristol continued to record until his death.