Category: philly soul

On this day in music history: July 8, 1978 – &…

On this day in music history: July 8, 1978 – “Close The Door” by Teddy Pendergrass hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 2 weeks, also peaking at #25 on the Hot 100 on September 16, 1978. Written and produced by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, it is the first solo chart topper for the former lead singer for Harold Melvin & The Bluenotes. Philadelphia International Records co-founders Gamble and Huff craft the song specifically for Pendergrass, playing on his reputation as a ladies man, and for his powerful, rich baritone voice. Issued as the lead single from his second solo album “Life Is A Song Worth Singing” in April of 1978, “Close The Door” cements Pendergrass’ reputation as sex symbol with a large and loyal female fan base. The success of the single propels his second solo album “Life Is A Song Worth Singing” to the top of the R&B album chart (for 2 weeks, #11 Pop), and to 2x Platinum status in the US. The song is later sampled by Keith Murray on “Get Lifted” in 1994, with comedian Eddie Murphy singing along with Pendergrass’ original recording in the film “The Nutty Professor” in 1996. Boyz II Men also record a cover version of “Close The Door” on their album “Throwback Vol. 1” in 2004, and by Jeffrey Osborne on his album “From The Soul” in 2005. “Close The Door” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: June 21, 1975 – …

On this day in music history: June 21, 1975 – “Give The People What They Want” by The O’Jays hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, and peaking at #45 on the Hot 100 on June 7, 1975. Written and produced by Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff, it is the third R&B chart topper for the vocal trio from Canton, OH. Written primarily by Kenny Gamble, he would often use The O’Jays as the vehicle for many of his and Leon Huff’s “message songs”, due to the groups forceful and soulful delivery. Gamble are inspired to write the song, wanting to draw attention to the plight of the less fortunate in his hometown of Philadelphia, and to others hit hard by the bad economy of the mid 70’s, and by the lack of opportunities in inner city areas. Issued as the first single from the groups tenth studio album (eleventh overall) “Survival”. The R&B chart success of “Give The People What They Want” drives sales of the album to Gold status in the US, making it their third full length to reach that plateau. In 1990, EPMD samples the song as the basis for their hit “Give The People”.

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Born on this day: June 16, 1942 – R&B voca…

Born on this day: June 16, 1942 – R&B vocal legend Eddie Levert of The O’Jays (born Edward Levert in Bessemer, AL). Happy 77th Birthday, Eddie!!!

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On this day in music history: June 15, 1974 – …

On this day in music history: June 15, 1974 – “Sideshow” by Blue Magic hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, also peaking at #8 on the Hot 100 on August 10, 1974. Written by Vinnie Barrett and Bobby Eli, it is the biggest hit and only million selling single for the Philadelphia, PA based R&B vocal quintet. Co-written by MFSB guitarist Bobby Eli and his writing partner Gwen Woolfolk (under the pseudonym “Vinnie Barrett”) are inspired to write the song after going to the circus, and to an antiques museum with circus toys on display. After they compose the song, fellow MFSB guitarist Norman Harris hears “Sideshow” when he visits Eli at his apartment. He’ll request the song for Blue Magic’s debut album which he is producing at the time. Issued as the fourth and final single from their self-titled debut, it shoots to the top of the R&B singles chart, then crossing over to the pop charts. Nearly one year later, Eli and Woolfolk have their second R&B chart topper as songwriters when Major Harris’ “Love Won’t Let Me Wait” tops the R&B singles chart one week shy of one year after Blue Magic reaches the summit. “Sideshow” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: June 12, 1979 – …

On this day in music history: June 12, 1979 – “Teddy”, the third album by Teddy Pendergrass is released. Produced by Kenneth Gamble, Leon Huff, Thom Bell, Sherman Marshall, Gene McFadden and John Whitehead, it is recorded at Sigma Sound Studios in Philadelphia, PA from December 1978 – March 1979. Coming off of the Double Platinum selling success of his second album “Life Is A Song Worth Singing”, Teddy Pendergrass returns to the studio to begin recording his third release at the end of 1978. Working once again with Philly International co-founders Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, and label staff producers including Thom Bell (The Spinners, The Stylistics) and McFadden & Whitehead, the album is a mixture of uptempo dance floor burners and the lush, sexy slow jams that have made Pendergrass a worldwide sex symbol. Released to an enthusiastic response, it quickly becomes Teddy Pendergrass’ highest charting album in the US. It spins off two singles including “Turn Off The Lights” (#2 R&B, #48 Pop) and “Come Go With Me” (#14 R&B). The album is supported by an extensive tour of the US, including a now legendary multi-night stand at The Greek Theater in Los Angeles, that is also recorded for the double live album “Live! Coast To Coast” released at the end of 1979. Originally released on CD in the late 80’s, it is remastered and reissued in 1993 by EMI/Right Stuff Records. It is remastered and reissued again by UK reissue label Big Break Records in 2016, containing four additional bonus tracks including the single edits of “Turn Off The Lights”, “Come Go With Me”, “Do Me” and “If You Know Like I Know”. “Teddy” spends eight weeks at number one on the Billboard R&B album chart, peaking at number five on the Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: June 9, 1973 – “…

On this day in music history: June 9, 1973 – “One Of A Kind (Love Affair)” by The Spinners hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 4 weeks, also peaking at #11 on the Hot 100 on June 30, 1973. Written by Joseph B. Jefferson, it is the third consecutive R&B chart topper single for the vocal quintet from Detroit, MI. Songwriter Joseph B. Jefferson is inspired to write the song after his live in girlfriend suddenly leaves him. She writes a note to him on the kitchen wall that says simply, “I’m in love with you. I can’t stay with you.” Also a staff writer at Mighty Three Music, the publishing company owned jointly by producer Thom Bell and Philadelphia International Records owners Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, Bell while looking for material for The Spinners to record, asks Jefferson if he has any songs. He replies “yes” and say that the song is titled “One Of A Kind (Love Affair)”, even though in truth he had not actually written the song yet. When the two meet again a week later, Jefferson has written the chorus and two verses, and plays it for Bell. When the producer exclaims that “it’s a number one record!”, the songwriter goes back and completes the song. Recorded at Sigma Sound Studios in Philadelphia, the track features MFSB providing musical backing, with Spinners members Bobbie Smith and Philippe Wynne sharing co-lead vocals on the song. On the full length LP version of “One Of A Kind”, Wynne improvises the line “makes you want to love her, you just got to f*** her” at the 2:40 mark in the song. The line with the expletive is edited out of the single version, though radio stations that are unaware of the line, often play it off of the album without listeners noticing it either. Issued as the third single from the group’s self-titled debut album for Atlantic Records, it becomes The Spinners’ third million seller in a row. “One Of A Kind (Love Affair)” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: June 7, 1975 – &…

On this day in music history: June 7, 1975 – “Love Won’t Let Me Wait” by Major Harris hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, also peaking at #5 on the Hot 100 on June 21, 1975. Written by Bobby Eli and Vinnie Barrett, it is the biggest solo hit for the soul legend, formerly of The Jarmels (“A Little Bit Of Soap”) and The Delfonics. The song is written by MFSB guitarist Bobby Eli and songwriter Gwen Woolfolk (under the pseudonym “Vinnie Barrett”). The track features members of MFSB playing on the rhythm track including Ronnie Baker (bass), co-writer Eli, and Norman Harris (guitars), Ron “Have Mercy” Kersey (keyboards), Larry Washington (percussion), with the strings and horns arranged and conducted by Don Renaldo. Barbara Ingram, Carla Benton and Evette Benson (“The Sweethearts Of Sigma”) sing the background vocals on the track, with Ingram providing the sounds of the woman moaning on the song. Ingram records her sexy moans in the studio with the lights turned off to get into the proper mood. Eli has to lock the door of the recording booth to keep other men out of the studio and away when they overhear her. Released as the second single from his debut album “My Way” in February of 1975, the sexy ballad quickly becomes a smash on R&B radio, making a fast crossover to the pop chart. “Love Won’t Let Me Wait” is covered by numerous artists including Luther Vandross and Nancy Wilson. “Love Won’t Let Me Wait” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: June 2, 1978 – &…

On this day in music history: June 2, 1978 – “Life Is A Song Worth Singing”, the second album by Teddy Pendergrass is released. Produced by Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff, Jack Faith, Gene McFadden, John Whitehead, Victor Carstarphen and Sherman Marshall, it is recorded at Sigma Sound Studios in Philadelphia, PA from December 1977 – February 1978. Flush with success and confidence after the release of his Platinum plated solo debut “Teddy Pendergrass”, the R&B star ends 1977 by returning to the studio to work on the all important follow up. Pendergrass along with songwriter and producers Gamble and Huff look to craft an album that not only fully showcases his vocal chops, but also emphasizes his status as a sex symbol to his ardent fans. The producers also with other Philly International staff writers and producers like McFadden & Whitehead, Victor Carstarphen, Jack Faith and Sherman Marshall, succeed in grand style. A flawless collection of sexy and heartfelt ballads, with a pair of tracks custom made for the dance floor, “Life Is A Song Worth Singing” puts Teddy at the forefront of male R&B vocalists during the late 70’s. Led by the Gamble and Huff penned and produced “Close The Door” (#1 R&B, #25 Pop), it not only gives Pendergrass his first chart topping single as a solo artist, but is a million seller and propels him to the next level of success in his career. It spins off a total of three singles including the title track and “Only You” (#22 R&B, #106 Pop), the latter of which is spoofed by comedian Eddie Murphy in his acclaimed HBO comedy special “Delirious” in 1983. The album is immediately embraced by fans and R&B radio which give heavy play to all seven tracks on the set, with “When Somebody Loves You Back”, “Get Up, Get Down, Get Funky, Get Loose” and “It Don’t Hurt Now” also becoming big turntable hits. Along with the standard vinyl LP release, the album is also issued as a limited edition picture disc. Originally released on CD in the late 80’s, it is reissued by EMI/The Right Stuff in 1993. It is remastered and reissued again in 2008 by Epic/Sony Legacy as part of its “Total Soul Classics” series, featuring two additional bonus tracks. “Life Is A Song Worth Singing” spends two weeks at number one on the Billboard R&B album chart, peaking at number eleven on the Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: June 1, 1974 – &…

On this day in music history: June 1, 1974 – “Be Thankful For What You Got” by William DeVaughn hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, also peaking at #4 on the Hot 100 on June 29, 1974. Written by William DeVaughn, its the debut single and biggest hit for the singer, songwriter and musician from Washington DC. The song is recorded with MFSB’s rhythm section including Earl Young (drums), Ronnie Baker (bass), Norman Harris (guitar), Larry Washington (congas) and Vince Montana (vibes) at the famed Sigma Sound Studios in Philadelphia, PA. Recorded for only $900, co-producer Frank Fioranvanti shops the master around to various record labels in New York, with many of them passing on it. Record producer Wes Ferrell (The Partridge Family), buys the master for his label Chelsea Records (distributed by RCA). Issued on Chelsea’s Roxbury Records imprint in March of 1974, the single is a smash right out of the box on R&B radio, quickly crossing over to Top 40 pop radio. DeVaughn re-visits his biggest hit again in 1980 when he records an uptempo disco version of the track for Philadelphia based TEC Records. The original version of “Be Thankful For What You Got” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: May 27, 1978 – &…

On this day in music history: May 27, 1978 – “Use Ta Be My Girl” by The O’Jays hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 5 weeks, and peaks at #4 on the Hot 100 on July 8, 1978. Written and produced by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, it is the eighth R&B chart topper for the R&B vocal trio from Canton, OH. With former Little Anthony & The Imperials member Sammy Strain replacing the late William Powell earlier in 1977, his first album as a full time member is “Travelin’ At The Speed Of Thought”, released in May of that year. In spite of spinning off the R&B top ten hit “Work On Me” (#7 R&B), it fails to chart on the Hot 100, with the album itself barely reaching Gold status. Gamble and Huff recommit themselves to coming up with stronger material for the next O’Jays album. Among the three songs the production duo write for them is “Use Ta Be My Girl”. The track is recorded at Sigma Sound Studios in Philadelphia in Late 1977, featuring members of the labels in house studio band including Bobby Eli, Roland Chambers (guitars), Quinton Joseph (drums), Larry Washington (percussion) and Jimmy Williams (bass). Both the producers and the group are somewhat doubtful of the retro sounding songs hit potential until after its release. Issued as the first single from the groups twelfth studio album “So Full Of Love” on March 21, 1978, “Girl” is an immediate smash right out of the gate. The single spends a total of twenty one weeks on the R&B chart and nineteen weeks on the Hot 100, longer than any of their previous hits. The success of the single drives the accompanying album to Platinum status in the US. “Use Ta Be My Girl” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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