The soul community is mourning the death of TEDDY PENDERGRASS, whose death from colon cancer was announced on Wednesday 13th January.
Born in Philadelphia, Pendergrass – who began his career as a drummer – rose to fame as the husky-voiced lead singer of Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes in the early 1970s. He fronted the group’s huge Philadelphia International hits ‘If You Don’t Know Me By Now,’ ‘Wake Up Everybody,’ and ‘Bad Luck.’
In 1976, Pendergrass made his exit from the group to begin a solo career, which succeeded in transforming him into a sex symbol and yielded a slew of hits in the late ’70s and early 1980s, including ‘Close The Door,’ ‘Turn Off The Lights,’ ‘Love T.K.O.’ and ‘You’re My Latest, My Greatest Inspiration.’ In 1982, however, the singer’s career suffered a seemingly catastrophic blow when he was paralysed in a car accident. But two years later, a determined Pendergrass – though confined to a wheelchair – made a miraculous return to the recording scene and US charts with a new label, Elektra/Asylum, which culminated with the US chart topper, ‘Joy’ in 1988.
Pendergrass stayed with Elektra until 1994 and three years later returned, albeit briefly, on Surefire Records for the US chart entries ‘Don’t Keep Wastin’ My Time’ and ‘Give It To Me.’
From 1998 onwards, the singer affectionately dubbed ‘Teddy Bear’ by his fans, ceased recording and performing and in 2006 officially announced his retirement from the music business.
In 2009, it was revealed that Pendergrass was suffering from colon cancer and despite undergoing surgery he eventually succumbed to the disease.