Teddy Pendergrass : March 26, 1950 – January 13, 2010
Theodore DeReese “Teddy” Pendergrass, was born in 1950 – and within a couple of decades was Quiet-ly Storm-ing the air waves and record studios with his deep, refined and raw soulful voice.
It was as a drummer that Teddy Pendergrass started his ascent (with The Cadillacs). When Melvin offered him to join Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, he became lead singer; they were soon signed with Gamble & Huff records (1972). From then on, the electrifying magnetism of his voice took us over (‘I Miss You’, ‘Bad Luck’, ‘Wake Up Everybody’, ‘If You Don’t Know Me By Now’).
Solo albums from 1977 started hitting the heart and core of Soul music. While the beats raptured his groove affirmation I just can’t get enough in ‘The More I Get, The More I Want’, so screamed his fans. He had reached iconic planes. Singer and songwriter Teddy P was in the bosom of R&B nurturing love. But in 1982, a car accident left both his legs paralysed. Brave faced and lionhearted, he founded the Pendergrass Alliance to support and help survivors of spinal cord injuries.
After strenuous treatments, he returned with his album Love Language (1984) – in which he sang a duo with an unknown singer by the name of Whitney Houston. He continued to appear in public and to record until the ’90s. In 1985 he took part in the live Aid concert in Philadelphia and was nominated several times over the years for a Grammy in the Best Male R&B Vocal Performance category. He published his autobiography Truly Blessed in 1998. In 2006 he announced his retirement from music, appearing one last time in 2007 for “Teddy 25: A Celebration of Life, Hope & Possibilities”.
Aged 59, Teddy Pendergrass passed away last Wednesday from colon cancer, at Bryn Mawr Hospital, Philadelphia. His funeral takes place this week on January 23 [visit teddypendergrass.com for information].
His many contributions to music, his prolific achievements and the long list of all those he inspired and teamed with cannot begin to retell his journey nor do justice to his gift to us. It is his music which remains and colourfully recounts his adventure through chanted meter and time.
Thank you Teddy P, for all your love and inspiration. God bless and Rest in Peace.