Thursday, January 14, 2010

JUST TRUST IN ME, LIKE I TRUST IN YOU: Philly soul legend Teddy Pendergrass passed away last night at the age of 59, following a long and ultimately unsuccessful recovery from colon cancer surgery. As lead singer of Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes ("If You Don't Know Me By Now," "Wake Up Everybody," "The Love I Lost") and as a solo artist ("Love T.K.O.," "The More I Get The More I Want," "Close the Door"), he was the archetypical soul crooner, doing "Ladies Only" concert tours long before the R. Kellys of the world.

And then, in 1982, came the paralyzing accident on Wissahickon Drive, for which a reader has located a fascinating contemporaneous Q & A in Jet Magazine. "They don't fill you with hope after something like this," Pendergrass told the Philadelphia Daily News in 2007. "They tell you that your life is going to be shorter, but they don't know by how much."

This 2008 Philadelphia Weekly cover story by Brian McManus is an insightful profile what Pendergrass did with the chance he had, not only in extending his musical career (he duetted with Whitney Houston on her first album) but also his work with spinal cord victims. "He's climbed the mountain himself, and now he's building elevators so people don't have to climb like he did," said Pendergrass' doctor. Sad day here in Philadelphia. Videos after the break.

Pendergrass returned to the stage on July 13, 1985 with Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson at Live Aid, and if this doesn't give you goosebumps, nothing will.

And a live performance of "Close the Door," in which the man's magnetism is just ridiculous.


  1. bad dad10:52 AM

    Definite premorse on this one. I suck.

  2. They brought him out to sing the National Anthem at the opening MNF game at Lincoln Financial Field in 2003.  No premorse for me.

  3. isaac_spaceman11:35 AM

    I remember reading a profile of Pendergrass in some magazine (maybe the NYT Sunday mag; possibly Rolling Stone, but for some reason I don't think the latter) in the late 1980s or early 1990s.  It was exceedingly sad.

  4. RIP

    Amazing performer and an inspiring person -- definitely goosebumps on the first video.  (And as for the second...I'll be in my bunk.)

  5. Max Reddick3:10 PM

    I think Teddy Pendergrass is vastly underestimated.  His injury slowed down what I believe would have been an even more remarkable career;  however, his returning to the stage following his injury simply highlights his love of music and desire to entertain.  Thank you for doing so well in remembering a remarkable life.