Teddy Pendergrass, a leading R&B pop singer of the 70s, died Wednesday
of colon cancer. A sex symbol of his era, the velvety-voiced soul
singer rose to fame as leader of Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes.
Pendergrass staged "Ladies Only' concerts and cranked out mega-hits
like "If You Don't Know Me By Now," "You Can't Hide From Yourself" and
More I Get the More I Want." In 1982, he was paralyzed from the waist
down in a car accident when his brakes failed. He became a source of
inspiration when, despite his disability, he mounted a comeback in 1985
singing the duet "Hold Me" with Whitney Houston. Here's what admirers
are saying of him:
A Pioneering Black Pop Star, writes Veronica Schmidt at the Times of London: "The singer's upward trajectory continued through the Seventies and he became
the first black male singer to record five consecutive platinum-selling
albums." Paul Lester adds, "Uptempo numbers such as The Love I Lost,
Satisfaction Guaranteed (Or Take Your Love Back), Don't Leave Me This
Way, Where Are All My Friends and Bad Luck... established him as a major force
on both sides of the Atlantic."
The Lady's Choice, writes Chuck Miller
at the Times Union: "I don't think there was a single girl at my high
school, Street Academy
of Albany, that didn't have at least one TP album in their record
collections, and I suspect every girl tried to go to one of Teddy's
'Ladies Only' concerts if they were held at the Palace Theater or at
the Falcons' Nest."
Had Humble, Gospel Roots, writes Philadelphia Enquirer music critic Dan DeLuca: "Pendergrass was raised by his mother, Ida Epps, in North
Philadelphia, and started singing in public at an early age. At age
21/2, he recalled in an interview in 2007 that he stood up on chair at
the Glad Tidings Baptist Church and sang 'If I Could Write A Letter To
Heaven.' 'I was just a little bitty guy,' he said. 'I had to be seen.
Always been my problem.'"
Made a Tenacious Recovery, writes Zennie Abraham at the San Francisco Chronicle: "He was wheelchair-bound and angry, but fought back with the help of his
wife Karen and his family. He went on to make other songs, and was
nominated for a Grammy for Voodoo in 1993.
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