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     Pendergrass, Teddy (26th March 1950-13th January 2010)

    He was a singer-songwriter and drummer born Theodore DeReese Pendergrass and nicknamed “Teddy” in Kingstree, South Carolina, who was brought up by his mother after his father had moved elsewhere and was later murdered when Teddy was only twelve years old.  With his mother discovering his talent for singing before he was three years old and he was a member of the All-City Elementary School Boys Choir when he was six.  It has also been said that he was an ordained minister from the time he was ten.

     

    He drummed from the time he was thirteen after having watched the musicians playing at a club his mother worked at and he sang with the Edison Mastersingers while he was attending Thomas Edison High School for Boys.  After deciding to pursue a career in music he left school when he was in the 11th grade.

     

    In 1968 he secured the position of drummer for Little Royal after having audition while working as a waiter.  He then became the drummer for The Cadillacs and in 1969 they merged and he was taken on as drummer for Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes.  The Blue Notes split up in 1970 but Harold Melvin continued the group and invited him to take on the role as the lead singer which was when he began to follow his path to success.   Soon he was performing on hit records that included “I Miss You”, “If You Don’t Know Me By Now”, “The Love I Lost” and “Wake Up Everybody”.

     

    Things didn’t run so smoothly for Teddy and Harold Melvin as time went on though as he noticed that aside from not getting the top billing he would have liked, he didn’t like Harold’s controlling aspect and the fact that money was being withheld from the other members of the group.  So he decided to venture out on his solo career in 1976 with his debut album being released in 1977 and others following regularly which resulted in him being the first black artist to achieve five platinum albums in a row.  These releases saw him achieve even more success when he was regularly recognised for albums and songs such as the Grammy nominated “Close the Door”, “I Can’t Live Without Your Love”, Joy and “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart” and “Voodoo” and hit records such as “Love TKO” and “Turn Off the Lights” and “I Don’t Love You Anymore”.

     

    Everything halted in Germantown, Pennsylvania, in March 1982 when he was in a serious car accident that left him spending the next 6 months in hospital, paralysed from the chest down and confining him to a wheel chair.  A few months later his This One’s For You was released and then the following year saw previously recorded material issued on his Heaven Only Knows.

     

    He went back to the studio in 1984 to record Love Language and the song “Hold Me” with Whitney Houston.  The following year he made an appearance at the Live Aid Concert in Philadelphia.

     

    The rest of the 1980s and throughout the 1990s he was active in the recording studio including his 1992 version of “One Shining Moment” which was used as the theme for CBS’s March Madness Baseball.  He toured in the musical Your Arms Too Short to Box With God alongside the singer Stephanie Mills in 1996 and two years later published his autobiography Truly Blessed.

     

    He continued performing and touring into the new millennium and 12th October 2002 was declared Teddy Pendergrass Day by the mayor of Philadelphia after he had completed his first full-length live performance in over twenty years.  He officially retired in 2006, although performed at the 25th anniversary award ceremony Teddy 25: A Celebration of Life, Hope and Possibilities in 2007 where the money raised went to The Teddy Pendergrass Alliance charity for people who have suffered spinal cord injuries and also marked 25 years since his own accident.

     

    Two years later he had been diagnosed with colon cancer and after having experienced problems in the recovery he passed away in hospital in January 2010 when he was 59 years old.

     

    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)

     

    Sources:

    1. http://teddypendergrass.com/teddymain.html
    2. http://www.teddypendergrassalliance.org/
    3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teddy_Pendergrass
    4. http://www.phillysoulclassics.com/artists/teddy-pendergrass
    5. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/culture-obituaries/music-obituaries/6990098/Teddy-Pendergrass.html
    6. http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:gifwxqr5ldhe~T1
    7. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harold_Melvin_&_the_Blue_Notes

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     



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