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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Teddy Pendergrass RIP (Dead at 59)

Johnny Gill has his voice, Gerald Levert had the teddy bears, while Bobby Brown channeled his on stage bravado, but nobody could ever match the sheer R&B force of Teddy Pendergrass who died today at 59 years old.

According to the Canadian Press, Pendergrass died at a hospital in suburban Philadelphia. The singer underwent colon cancer surgery eight months ago and had "a difficult recovery," said his son Teddy Pendergrass II.

Former lead singer for Harold Melvin and Blue Notes ("If You Don't Know Me By Now', "Wake Up Everybody, Don't Leave Me This Way"), Pendergrass became an R& B legend with his gruff vocals, for "Women Only" concerts and his magical musical pairing with Philadelphia International's Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff.

The combination of Pendergrass' "Come Here Woman" vocals and the Philly Soul production team of Gamble, Huff, McFadden, Whitehead and others, TP churned out classic hits like "Turn Off The Lights", "The Whole Town's Laughing at Me" "Love TKO" , "Turn Off The Lights" and many more.

Tragedy struck in 1982, when Pendergrass was involved in an auto accident where the brakes on his Rolls Royce failed and his the car hit a guard rail and two trees. The accident left the crooner paralyzed from the waist down.

(The interesting thing is that the year of his accident in 1982, introduced two albums that would set the template for R&B male singers in the 1980's: Prince's "1999" and Michael Jackson's "Thriller").

Though he lost his raw sexuality on stage persona, Pendergrass became a beacon for paraplegic everywhere as he continued to make albums and tour.

Today there are no Teddy Pendergrasses.

For the exception of R. Kelly, Maxwell, Raheem DeVaughn and few others, Pendergrass' passionate vocals and perform until you sweated through all of your clothes off style has been replaced by auto-tunes, abs and whomever can dance the best.

TP is a case study on what an R&B vocalist can be...maybe one day his leagcy will be fullfilled,  by another gruff vocal young man with an unamatched stage persona that will make the ladies swoon.

Close The Door (Live 1979)

When Somebody Loves You Back (Live 1979)

Gamble & Huff on Teddy Pendergrass

Stephanie Mills & Teddy Pendergrass - Two Hearts ( Limited 12 Inch Mix)

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