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Teddy Pendergrass

Teddy Pendergrass was born on March 26th, 1950 in Philadelphia, PA. He was raised by his mother, Ida Pendergrass, a God-fearing South Carolina sharecropper's daughter. It was

Teddy's mother who discovered his voice when he was only 2 1/2 years old when he began singing in church.  At age 6 he was chosen for the All-City Elementary School Boys Choir.  His love for performing grew when he would accompany his mother to work at a Philadelphia supper club (Sciolla's) where he would sneak into the dining room and watch performers ranging from Connie Francis to Chubby Checker to Bobby Darin. It was at the supper club that he also discovered another side of his musical talent: drumming. From the time he was thirteen, he could sit and play any rhythm, no matter how complex or fast.

Little Royal

Teddy's desire for a career in music was firmly fixed the night he attended a Jackie Wilson concert at Philadelphia's famed Uptown Theater and watched Wilson's entrance and how he controlled the audience with his performance. In 1968 Teddy was working as a waiter in a club called "Edgehill's" in Atlantic City when Little Royal came to perform. Little Royal's drummer, Marvin Jolly, was leaving at the end of the gig so auditions were held to find a replacement. Teddy auditioned, won the job and immediately started touring with Little Royal. Teddy began working as a drummer wherever and whenever possible. His reputation grew and he eventually landed a job with Harold Melvin, the remaining member of a popular local 50's recording do wop group called the Blue Notes. Melvin was looking for replacements for his group that had recently broken up and Teddy was picked as the drummer in 1969. After the group broke up again in 1970, he moved to the front as a vocalist. The group toured the US, the Caribbean and South America during the late 60's and early 70's and in 1971 landed a record deal with the legendary writer/producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff at Philadelphia International Records. Howard Melvin and the Blue Notes released their first single, "I Miss You," in 1972 then released "If You Don't Know Me By Now" as a second single on the first album.

The Blue Notes recorded several albums - including Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, Black and Blue, To Be True and Wake Up Everybody - and scored such hits as "The Love I Lost," "Yesterday I Had the Blues," "Wake Up Everybody," and the Grammy-nominated "If You Don't Know Me By Now." In October 1975 Teddy, unhappy with Melvin's totalitarian control of the group and his tendency to keep most of the group's money for himself, quit the Blue Notes. In the Fall of 1976 he embarked on his solo career. Teddy scored big right from the start with "I Don't Love You Anymore," 'You Can't Hide From Yourself," "Close the Door," "Love TKO and "Turn Off the Lights." He became the first black male singer in history to record five consecutive multi-platinum albums: Teddy Pendergrass, Life is a Song Worth Singing, Teddy, Teddy Live! and TP. His live show was equally successful as his recording career, selling out arenas across the globe.

(L to R) Leon Huff, Taaz Lang [Teddy's girlfriend/manager], Teddy, Jimmy Bishop [VP Philadelphia International Records] and Kenny Gamble at the contract signing.

On March 18th, 1982, Teddy's life was changed dramatically and forever when a horrifying auto accident left him paralyzed from the chest down and wheel-chair bound. He spent the next six months in the hospital and in rehab before returning home.

Teddy returned to recording the year after his accident and recorded "Love Language." The follow-up to that album was 1985's "Working it Back," which was followed by "Joy" in 1988, "Truly Blessed" in 1990, "A Little More Magic" in 1993 and "You and I" in 1997. The entire "Joy" album and a track on each of the next two albums were nominated for Grammys. In 1997 Teddy was one of the first artists' profiled on VH-1's popular documentary show, Behind The Music.

The year 1985 also marked Teddy's return to the stage with a stirring performance at Live Aid. In 1997, eager to prove himself as more than a one-shot-deal performer, Teddy embarked on a grueling four month, twenty-two city tour in a limited roll in the legendary gospel musical "Your Arms Too Short To Box With God." The following year, Teddy had an autobiography published entitled "Truly Blessed."

Four years later, on Memorial Day weekend, May 2001, after a 19 year absence, Teddy made a triumphant return to the concert stage by performing two sold out shows at the Trump Taj Mahal Hotel/Casino in Atlantic City, NJ.  These shows were met with standing ovations and national recognition. Since then, Teddy has been playing to sold out concerts across the country. These concerts have included a sold out performance at the Wiltern Theater in LA which was filmed on Saint Valentine's Day, 2002, for a DVD, CD and VHS release. The show was also aired as a pay-per-view cable special on June 13th, 2002. All entitled "From Teddy With Love." The DVD's, CD's and VHS's hit the stores on May 21st, 2002.

On October 12th, Mayor John F. Street of Philadelphia declared it Teddy Pendergrass Day to commemorate the first full-length live performance by Teddy in over two decades.

Teddy has become an outspoken advocate for the disabled. He recently founded the Teddy Pendergrass Alliance (TPA), a national organization that helps people with spinal cord injury (SCI) rebuild their lives. TPA acts as a conduit, making the resources of government, universities and private industry more readily available to people with SCI who seek education, training and employment.

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