Category: teddy pendergrass

On this day in music history: July 25, 1980 – “TP”, the fourth studio album by Teddy Pendergrass is released. Produced by Dexter Wansel, Cecil Womack, Cynthia Biggs, Nickolas Ashford, Valerie Simpson, Gene McFadden, John Whitehead, Jerry Cohen, John R. Faith and Teddy Pendergrass, it is recorded at Sigma Sound Studios in Philadelphia, PA and New York City from December 1979 – April 1980. Ending the 70’s as one of the top R&B male vocalists, as well as experiencing major crossover success, Teddy Pendergrass starts the new decade with no signs of slowing down. With Philadelphia International co-founders Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff having their attention focused elsewhere at the time, Pendergrass’ fourth solo album is the first not to include any creative input from the duo (acting as executive producers only), neither writing or producing. Instead, Teddy takes the production reigns himself for the first time, along with several others contributing to the project including Ashford & Simpson, McFadden & Whitehead, Jerry Cohen, Cecil Womack (Womack & Womack, Valentine Brothers), and fellow Philly International staff songwriter and producers Dexter Wansel, Cynthia Biggs and John R. Faith. Musically, “TP” differs from previous albums as it features no uptempo songs at all. Coming out of the Disco Era and perhaps trying to downplay that sound, the album consists mostly of ballads and mid tempo material that emphasize Teddy’s “ladies man” image. The album features two duets with R&B star Stephanie Mills including “Feel The Fire” and “Take Me In Your Arms Tonight”. The lead single “Can’t We Try” (#3 R&B, #52 Pop) is also featured in the film and on the soundtrack of the musical comedy “Roadie”. The track that makes the biggest impression is the follow up “Love T.K.O.” (#2 R&B, #44 Pop) written by Cecil Womack and Gip Nobel, Jr.. The sexy ballad quickly becomes another of Teddy’s signature songs, and one of his most widely covered. “T.K.O.” is also sampled a number of times, on Ahmad’s “Back In The Day (Remix)”, Compton’s Most Wanted’s “Can I Kill It?” and Xscape’s “Who Can I Run To?” (Remix). R&B artists Kenny Lattimore (“I Won’t Let You Down”) and Total (“Spend Some Time”) also sample the song. First released on CD in the late 80’s, it is reissued in 1993 on Right Stuff/EMI Records. In March of 2016, UK reissue label BBR Records remasters and reissues the the album, including five additional bonus tracks. “TP” peaks at number three on the Billboard R&B album chart, number fourteen on the Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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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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Vinyl Is better

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1970s Ebony Magazine Covers

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 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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Born on this day: March 26, 1950 – R&B vocal icon Teddy Pendergrass (born Theodore DeReese Pendergrass in Philadelphia, PA). Happy Birthday to “The Teddy Bear” on what would have been his 69th Birthday.

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1970s Ebony Magazine Covers

On this day in music history: March 2, 1977 – “Teddy Pendergrass”, the debut solo album by Teddy Pendergrass is released. Produced by Kenneth Gamble, Leon Huff, Gene McFadden, John Whitehead, Sherman Marshall and Victor Carstarphen, it is recorded at Sigma Sound Studios in Philadelphia, PA from October 1976 – January 1977. Teddy Pendergrass drops out of the public eye for more than a year, following his departure from Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes in late 1975, leaving fans and music critics to wonder if the singer had made a mistake by leaving the group that had made him a star. During this down time, Pendergrass leaves Philadelphia for California to contemplate his next move, even fielding offers from other record labels who are eager to sign the R&B star. Eventually, Teddy decides to re-sign with Philadelphia International Records as a solo artist. Label co-founders Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff set about the task of writing and producing Pendergrass’ first solo effort. Gamble and Huff along with P.I.R. staff producers and writers Mc Fadden & Whitehead, Sherman Marshall and Victor Carstarphen all contribute material to the project. The album is one of the first to feature the second line up of Philly International’s house band (including bassists Jimmy Williams, Michael “Sugar Bear” Foreman, keyboardist Ron “Have Mercy” Kersey, guitarist Dennis Harris and drummers Charles Collins, Karl Chambers and Keith Benson) after the departure of MFSB mainstays Norman Harris, Ronnie Baker, Earl Young and Bobby Eli. Any doubts about Teddy Pendergrass’ ability to make it on his own are quickly erased upon the release of his solo debut. A mixture of soulful ballads and uptempo dance floor ready tracks, the album quickly establishes Pendergrass as a solo superstar and sex symbol. It spins off two singles including “I Don’t Love You Anymore” (#5 R&B, #41 Pop, #7 Club Play) and “The Whole Town’s Laughing At Me” (#16 R&B, #102 Pop). The album tracks “You Can’t Hide From Yourself” and “The More I Get, The More I Want” both become major fan favorites and both receive heavy play in discos and on R&B radio. “You Can’t Hide” is later sampled on The D.O.C.’s “Portrait Of A Masterpiece” and “If I Had” by D’Angelo on “Devil’s Pie” and by Mobb Deep on “Cradle To The Grave”. First released on CD in 1993, the album is remastered and reissued in 2008 as part of Sony Legacy’s “Total Soul Classics” reissue series. “Teddy Pendergrass” peaks at number five on the Billboard R&B album chart, number seventeen on the Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

Teddy Pendergrass backstage at “The Dinah Shore Show” at CBS Studios in Los Angeles, 1978.

Photos Bobby Holland