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    Melvin, Harold (25 June 1939 – 24 March 1997)

    Arranger, pianist, and singer-songwriter who grew up singing in doo-wop outfits with his friends and turned one of these into The Charlemagnes, which became Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes.  In 1956, they released “If You Love Me” on Josie Records and continued issuing singles intermittently throughout the ‘50s and ‘60s.  Bernard Williams left the group in the mid-1960s to form The Original Blue Notes. 


    Harold hired John Atkins to sing lead vocals and the group carried on in relative anonymity until a young Teddy Pendergrass came on board to play drums and, eventually, take over lead vocals.  His is the voice associated with some of Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes’ greatest hits, including “Don’t Leave Me This Way” and “If You Don’t Know Me By Now”.  In the mid-‘70s, tensions were flowing between the bandleader and his lead singer, in no small part due to the living arrangements of Harold and his Blue Notes on the road.  Teddy confronted him about it during a stay in L.A., where Harold was partying it up with his friends in a penthouse suite while his band members were slumming in Hollywood.  Harold paid him to keep his mouth shut, but Teddy distributed the moneys amongst his fellow Blue Notes.  Teddy soon departed to pursue a solo career and Harold kept on keeping on with new version after new version of his band. 


    In 1983, Harold and several of his band members were busted in Atlantic City for cocaine-related charges.  In a plea bargain, Harold pled guilty to possession of the illegal drug, while other charges, such as carrying a handgun, were dropped.  The rest of the ‘80s weren’t quite so eventful, although 28th January 1988 was dubbed Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes Day in Louisville, Kentucky.  Other honours that have been bestowed on Harold include a citation of service to African-Americans from the Detroit Chamber of Commerce and another citation of service to community from the House of Representatives. 


    Harold kept performing with his band until 1996, when he suffered a stroke.  In 1997, he suffered another stroke and died on 24th March at his home in Mount Airy, Pennsylvania.  He was buried in Ivy Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia, a city whose music he helped to shape for more than four decades.  For the casual listener, a worthwhile introduction to the man and his music is Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes’ Greatest Hits, released on CD in 1985.


    Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes recordings

    Don’t Leave Me This Way (Kenneth Gamble/Cary Gilbert/Leon Huff)

    Philadelphia International (S PIR 4909 A) (UK 45)

    To Be Free To Know Who We are (Victor Carstarphen/Gene McFadden/John Whitehead)

    Philadelphia International (S PIR 4909 B) (UK 45)



    1. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/obituary-harold-melvin-1275121.html
    2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harold_Melvin_and_the_Blue_Notes
    3. http://www.aaeg.com/relation.htm
    4. http://www.soultracks.com/harold_melvin_and_the_blue_notes.htm
    5. http://www.amazon.com/Harold-Melvin-The-Blue-Notes/e/B000AQ0WSE
    6. http://www.last.fm/music/Harold%2BMelvin%2B%2526%2BThe%2BBlue%2BNotes
    7. http://www.rhapsody.com/harold-melvin-and-the-blue-notes
    8. http://www.amazon.com/Harold-Melvin-Bluenotes-Greatest-Hits/dp/B000002YG6
    9. http://www.nydailynews.com/archives/entertainment/1997/03/26/1997-03-26_a_blue_note_for_r___b_lovers.html
    10. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=6848405
    11. http://books.google.com/books?id=bbQDAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA38&lpg=PA38&dq=%22Harold+Melvin%22&source=bl&ots=dTMq1A6TuW&sig=fljHXgzmsunq7-RR3ollag9sj2M&hl=en&ei=qrvIS-WYBoTKMcPGmMoI&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CAoQ6AEwAjiaAw#v=onepage&q=%22Harold%20Melvin%22&f=false
    12. http://blast-from-thepast.com/blog/?tag=teddy-pendergrass













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