Main | Thursday, January 14, 2010

Teddy Pendergrass Dies At 59

Former Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes lead singer and R&B/disco icon Teddy Pendergrass died in Philadelphia tonight at the age of 59.
The singer's son, Teddy Pendergrass II, says his father died Wednesday at Bryn Mawr Hospital. Pendergrass' son says his father underwent colon cancer surgery eight months ago and had "a difficult recovery." The elder Pendergrass was injured in a car accident in 1982. He suffered a spinal cord injury and was paralyzed from the waist down. He spent six months in a hospital but returned to recording the next year with the album "Love Language."
With the Blue Notes, Pendergrass scored 17 Top 40 R&B hits, including three #1's. Their biggest pop hit was the 1972 classic If You Don't Know Me By Now which peaked at #3. As a solo artist Pendergrass landed 27 Top 40 R&B hits including three #1's. His biggest solo pop hit was 1978's steamy sex-drenched Close The Door, which reached #25.

But as fantastic as Teddy's trademark sex ballads were, he'll be best remembered here for his early proto-disco hits with the Blue Notes, whose Gamble & Huff produced hits like The Love I Lost (clip below) and Bad Luck (clip below) defined the early Philly-disco sound. Probably most notably for many readers of this blog, it was the Pendergrass-led Blue Notes whose original and superior 1975 version of Don't Leave Me This Way became a gay underground disco smash. It still gets played during morning music sets today.

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