Teddy Pendergrass Biography

Theodore Pendergrass, 26 March 1950, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. Pendergrass joined Harold Melvin And The Blue Notes in 1969, when they invited his group, the Cadillacs, to work as backing musicians. Initially their drummer, Pendergrass had become the featured vocalist within a year. His ragged, passionate interpretations brought distinction to such releases as ‘I Miss You’ and ‘If You Don’t Know Me By Now’. Clashes with Melvin led to an inevitable split and in 1976 Pendergrass embarked on a successful solo career, remaining with Philadelphia International Records. His skills were most apparent on slower material, which proved ideal for the singer’s uncompromisingly sensual approach, which earned him a huge following among women. ‘The Whole Town’s Laughing At Me’ (1977), ‘Close The Door’ (1978) and ‘Turn Off The Lights’ (1979) stand among the best of his early work and if later releases were increasingly drawn towards a smoother, more polished direction, Pendergrass was still capable of creating excellent records, including a moving rendition of ‘Love TKO’, a haunting Womack And Womack composition.

Pendergrass’ life was inexorably changed in 1982, following a near-fatal car accident that left the singer confined to a wheelchair, although his voice was intact. Nonetheless, after months of physical and emotional therapy, he was able to begin recording again. ‘Hold Me’ (1984), Pendergrass’ debut hit on his new outlet, Asylum Records, also featured Whitney Houston, while further success followed with ‘Love 4/2’ (1986), ‘Joy’ and ‘2 A.M.’ (both 1988). In 1991, ‘It Should Have Been You’ did much to reinstate him in people’s minds as a major artist. He moved to a new label in 1996 after a lengthy gap in his career.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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