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TRIBUTE TO TEDDY PENDERGRASS
It is with much sadness that we learned of the passing of Teddy Pendergrass, one of the greatest voices in soul music. We invite you to add your comments about this great man and his music. Send your email to david@soulmusic.com

Here's David Nathan's personal commentary:
"I woke up on the morning of January 14, 2010 to the BBC news that Teddy had passed. It was, appropriately, one of the lead stories for Teddy Pendergrass was a singular talent, a man who influenced more than a few of today's male vocalists - and an artist I had the joy of working with for over thirty years. We began our association in 1976 when I was a writer for Blues & Soul in New York at the time when Teddy had left Harold Melvin & The Bluenotes and was choosing where to go next as a recording artist.

Subsequently, we did several interviews together and I have fond, fond memories of all the times we spent culminating in the 2008 Time Life recording session I did with Preston Glass for "Songs 4 Worship Soul." We could not have known that "Oh Happy Day" (which featured his grandson Teddy III) would be Teddy's final recording - and the very first recording session that his mother (and then-new bride Joan) would attend. Teddy was proud to have his family in the studio with him - and particularly joyful that his Mom was there.

It was an amazing experience and as I reflect on his contribution to contemporary music, I feel deeply privileged to have known him. I can still see his broad smile and grin as we joked about how we never imagined we'd ever be working together in the studio, laughing as Teddy recalled how my habit of wearing white shoes in NY in the '70s made him think I was "a preacher!" Whenever we met, there were always smiles and jokes and I feel blessed to have known him."

Click here for David's interview with BBC Radio Manchester in tribute to Teddy


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Comments from the Soul Music.com community:

"We all have our Teddy stories and history to be thankful for, I for one will miss his wit and stimulating intellect. I was always amazed by the books he'd read and was more than willing to discuss at length. He was a cool costumer, a good friend and an extraordinary artist! I will always think of him in the face of adversity and whenever I ... turn off the lights!" - Peabo Bryson
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"I remember the night we (Dexter Wansel, Cecil Womack, and I) recorded the vocals for Love TKO, and how Teddy showed up at the studio alone, decked out in a chocolate brown suit, white shirt, coordinated tie, brown Italian loafers, and a Louis Vuitton clutch neatly tucked under his arm. He was so dapper I asked where he was going. He looked at me and smiled and said, "I'm coming to work." That told me just how serious he was about his career, and it gave me a new and even greater respect for him as an artist.

For Teddy his was a profession that often warranted professional attire, which was a slight departure from the less formal, high-end fashion statements adorned by most music celebrities of that era. Also, the fact that he came alone spoke volumes because back then Teddy didn't go too many places without an entourage. So it was clear he was focused about the night's work and didn't want any distractions.

You can understand why many consider a recording artist career a glamour profession, but most really do "work hard for the money." Teddy was one of them. Of course, about midway through the session the jacket, shirt, and tie came off, as Teddy could always work up a good sweat just singing. He nailed the lead to Love TKO in one rough and one take.

Although I had seen him since, I had my last genuine moment with Teddy the evening of the Rhythm and Blues Foundation Pioneer Awards the year they were held in Philadelphia at the Bellevue. Among the honorees were Barbara Mason, Thom Bell, Dee Dee Sharp, and Frankie Beverly and Maze. Teddy and I talked and reminisced about the good ol' days for about an hour before the program -- just the two of us. I took that time to thank him for the honor and privilege of working with him, and to let him know just how much we loved and appreciated him for the gargantuan figure he was -- on stage and off. Dexter and I spent many days visiting with him at his home and often he would call and announce a visit with us if he was in the neighborhood. Not only was he one of the greatest R & B voices of our time, he was a dear friend. So my heart is just aching from the news of his passing.

We lost a great one in Teddy Pendergrass, but his unparalleled musical legacy lives on and he will forever reside in our hearts.

We love you Teddy!" - Cynthia Biggs, Songwriter/Producer ("Love TKO")
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"Ah life and the strange things that happen to us at times.

Just a couple of days ago, I was doing some early spring cleaning and came across a copy of "Life is a Song Worth Singing". It was always my most favorite Teddy album.

But I go back with Teddy during the days when an artist would record Pt. 1 & Pt. 2 on songs that went beyond the normal 3 or 4 minute length dictated by radio. Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes had several of those songs including "The Love I Lost", "Bad Luck" and "Wake Up Everybody". But it was the first song, "The Love I Lost" that became Teddy's first big club hit. At the time, there were not even 12 inches made. The dj would just play it straight from the album. And the clubs, both gay and straight and black and white, would play the entire song. Music was so different back then. I believe the entire "Life is a Song Worth Singing" was deemed a club classic though it was hardly dance music in its purest form.

Like many people, for awhile I thought that Teddy was Harold Melvin. However, that would soon change. I was a fan of his solo work. I was so happy for him when "Joy" became a #1 hit for him. I even owned his one concert on VHS, and then I bought the laser disc of the same show and eventually the DVD. It was his knockout version of "You're My Latest, My Greatest Inspiration" from that concert that had me faithfully purchase it in every format released. Those background singers perfectly complimented Teddy's sexy baritone on this near spiritual-like song. (I regret that his "Ladies Only" tour made it near impossible for guys to feel comfortable attending the show, but, I did have the recording of the show to keep me sated).

How he kept his head up after such adversity, only he and the higher force knows. And at 59 years old, I cannot believe I am saying this, he was still relatively young, certainly not, old. He will be missed. He came from a classic school of soul singers that say an Anthony Hamilton aspires to.

Teddy, your music will always be alive in my soul and my collection.......and you will be missed." - Kirk Bonin
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"I was 16, back in mid 1979, when I first listened to Teddy sing. Here in Uganda, it took that long, for some Western music to get to us (in tape of vinyl form), during the Idi Amin days, other than radio! I was in boarding school, and the guy who brought the tape thought it was Barry White, and did label it "Barry White". As soon as I listened to that distinctive voice, singing "When Somebody Loves You back", I knew it couldn't possibly be Barry White.

That slightly harsh,yet emotional and impassioned voice was far too different from Barry's laid-back baritone. An argument ensued among the 5 or 6 of us, with hot exchanges about "wise-acre musical analysts", etc, simply because none of us had ever heard of Teddy Pendergrass....We barely knew about Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes, but not the name "Teddy Pendergrass"!

That was the start of many years of relishing his great sounds. We were in pain with him, after his accident and recovery, and very proud as he bravely revived his career, most notably for me - the song "Truly Blessed".

Rest In Peace, Brother!!!" - Raymond Byabazaire
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What a wonderful soulful singer he was. In this day and a"ge when we call soul singers people like Usher and Maxwell, they may be fine singers but they are not SOUL singers. Teddy sang like a man sings "Come here woman". He was truly a great artist and he brought joy to millions. God bless his soul." - Kenneth Reed, Sr.
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"I was so sad to learn about Teddy Pendergrass's passing. I haven't even heard what happened yet - just the news that he's gone.

It's funny how a younger generation can know about him - not me, mind you. I'm Teddy's age (approximately), and I've loved him since the 70's. I can go on and on about how his music made me feel (mainly sexy!! LOL) but I remember feeling so shocked and saddened about his car accident but impressed at how he continued to live his life in a positive fasion.

The "younger generation" part is because my 21 year old son knew who he was because of Eddie Murphy in The Nutty Professor when he said, "Let's put on some Teddy P music"...

I'll write more later... he was a major influence on my music listening appreciation!!

RIP and my sympathies to his family..." - Judy Dixon Gabaldon
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"How sad that two of the greats (Teddy Pendergrass and Willie Mitchell) have gone.They will be greatly missed by any soul lover." - Tom Darlington
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"I was very sad when I knew that Teddy had died…I had a chance to see his performance in 1972 at the Apollo Theatre in NY with the Bluenotes… It was, maybe, around September 1972… It was of course great and even though it was the beginning, Teddy made girls hysterical… I will miss him a lot…" - Pierre Toscano
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"I love Teddy's version of "Oh Happy Day" (T.P. III sounds adorable) and his interpretation of Bread's "Make It With You" (one of my all time favorites)...R.I.P. Teddy Pendergrass and Willie Mitchell." - Pat Munson, Unity Fellowship Church
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About the Writer
David Nathan is the founder and CEO of SoulMusic.com and began his writing career in 1965; beginning in 1967, he was a regular contributor to Blues & Soul magazine in London before relocating to the U.S. in 1975 where he served as U.S. editor for the publication for several decades and began being known as 'The British Ambassador Of Soul.' From 1988 to 2004, he wrote prolifically for Billboard, has penned bios, produced and written liner notes for box sets and reissue CDs for over a thousand projects. He returned to London in 2009 where he has helped create SoulMusic.com Records as a leading reissue label.
  
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