This day we remember –
Theodore DeReese “Teddy” Pendergrass (March 26, 1950 – January 13, 2010) was an African American singer–songwriter and composer, that rose to fame as a lead singer for Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes in the early 70’s. The group experienced much success with hit songs, “Where Are all my Friends”, “Hope That We Can Be Together Soon”, “I Miss You”, and “Bad Luck”. This tidal wave of success, and the failure of the negotiations within the group, catapulted the legendary baritone into a hit laden solo career. And by 1977, he released his debut album, “Teddy Pendergrass”, which peaked at #6, on the Billboard R&B chart. In 1978, Teddy saw his 2nd Album, “Life is a Song Worth Singing” peak at #1, and quickly followed up with “Teddy” and “Joy”. Pendergrass enjoyed the limelight and the notoriety his singing afforded him. Women loved and adored him.
Born Theodore DeReese Pendergrass on Sunday, March 26, 1950 at Thomas Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and was the only child of Jesse and Ida Geraldine (née Epps) Pendergrass. When he was still very young, his father left the family; Jesse was fatally stabbed on June 13, 1962. Pendergrass grew up in Philadelphia and often sang at church. He dreamed of being a pastor and got his wish when, at 10, he was ordained a minister (according to author Robert Ewell Greene). Pendergrass also took up drums during this time and was a junior deacon of his church.
He attended Thomas Edison High School for Boys in North Philadelphia (now closed). He sang with the Edison Mastersingers. He dropped out in the eleventh grade to enter the music business, recording his first song “Angel With Muddy Feet.” The recording, however, was not a commercial success. Pendergrass played drums for several local Philadelphia bands, eventually becoming the drummer of The Cadillacs. In 1970, the singer was spotted by the Blue Notes’ founder, Harold Melvin (1939–1997), who convinced Pendergrass to play drums in the group. However, during a performance, Pendergrass began singing along, and Melvin, impressed by his vocals, made him the lead singer. Before Pendergrass joined the group, the Blue Notes had struggled to find success. That all changed when they landed a recording deal with Philadelphia International Records in 1971, thus beginning Pendergrass’s successful collaboration with label founders Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff.