I just read that one of my mama’s favorite singers has passed away. Teddy Pendergrass, the gruff voiced soul legend known for such hits as Close The Door and Love TKO has passed away:
The singer’s son, Teddy Pendergrass II, said his father died Wednesday at a Bryn Mawr Hospital in suburban Philadelphia.
The singer had undergone colon cancer surgery eight months ago and had what was described as “a difficult recovery,” his son said.
“To all his fans who loved his music, thank you. He will live on through his music.” said the son in a statement from the hospital.
In 1982, Pendergrass suffered a spinal cord injury and was paralyzed from the waist down in a car accident. He spent six months in a hospital but returned to recording the next year with the album “Love Language.”
He also returned to the stage at the Live Aid concert in 1985, performing from his wheelchair.
Pendergrass later founded the Teddy Pendergrass Alliance, an organization whose mission is to encourage and help people with spinal cord injuries achieve their maximum potential in education, employment, housing, productivity and independence, according to its Web site.
Pendergrass was born in Philadelphia on March 26, 1950 and first gained popularity as a member of Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes.
In 1971, the group signed a record deal with the legendary writer/producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. The group released it first single, “I Miss You,” in 1972 and then released “If You Don’t Know Me by Now,” which was nominated for a Grammy Award.
Pendergrass quit the group in 1975 and embarked on a solo career in 1976. It was his solo hits that brought him his greatest fame. With songs such as “Love T.K.O.,” “Close the Door” and “I Don’t Love You Anymore,” he came to define a new era of black male singers with his powerful, aggressive vocals that spoke to virility, not vulnerability.
His lyrics were never coarse, as those of later male R&B stars would be, but they had a sensual nature that bordered on erotic without being explicit.
“Turn Off the Lights” was a tune that perhaps best represented the many moods of Pendergrass — tender and coaxing yet strong as the song reached its climax.
Pendergrass, the first black male singer to record five consecutive multi-platinum albums, made women swoon with each note, and his concerts were a testament to that adulation, with infamous stories of women throwing their underwear on stage for his affection.