Most Wanted! Teddy Pendergrass – Believe In Love (Phat Phili Mix) (Elektra)
“If you believe in love, I will never let you down. If you believe in love, I will always be around…” Lookin’ back at the life he had, Teddy Pendergrass has remained true to these words until the end…
An inconditional fan of the artist, I felt sad hearing of the car crash that got him paralyzed from chest. But also so admirative of the strength he found to keep on singin’ afterwards. Sharing the bill with a then unknown Whitney Houston back in 1984 on the hearfelt ‘Hold Me’. Then comin’ up with his first #1 hit after nearly a decade. This under the form of the swingin’ ‘Joy’ with production work by the likes of Reggie and Vincent Calloway. This in a vein somehow reminding of ‘Love Overboard’. Itself a cut they’d produced the year before (in 1987) for Gladys Knight & The Pips.
The magic would resurface in 1993 with the vibrant ‘Believe In Love’. Thus with Teddy Pendergrass at the peak of his art. And the same applying to his producers as a matter of fact. Altogether comin’ up in a jazzy soft swingin’ mood over a bumpin’ bassline. With a special mention to a quite unknown Kenny Bobien at the time along with Eddie Stockley in the backing vocals.
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Born in Philadelphia, PA, to a religious family, Teddy Pendergrass‘s early singing happened in church. He dreamed of becoming a pastor at the time and eventually got his wish when ordained a minister at the age of 10. He started takin’ on drums during this period, securing his first professional gig with The Cadillacs as a drummer in the late 60’s. Teddy soon after caught up the attention of The Blue Notes‘ founder Harold Melvin who made him an offer to join the band. However, during a performance, Pendergrass began singing. With Melvin, impressed by his raspy baritone voice, makin’ him the lead singer of the group.
Their first single together – ‘I Miss You’ – came to light back in 1972. The success happened to be immediate. Opening an impressive series of hits. From ‘If You Don’t Know Me By Now’ to ‘The Love I Lost’. Not to mention ‘Wake Up Everybody’ and ‘Don’t Leave Me This Way’ which Thelma Houston turned into a Disco smash hit in 1976. Teddy leavin’ the group due to artistic and financial conflicts that same year…
He embarked on a solo career the year after with the release of his eponymous album. A solid package which features gems such as ‘You Can’t Hide From Yourself’ (only released as a single in Holland). But also ‘I Don’t Love You Anymore’ and ‘The More I Get, The More I Want’. The latter speakin’ of which Italian producer Serge Funk would give an interesting development. With this on his 2018 released ‘Can’t Get Enough’ interpolation.
Its follow-up – ‘Life Is A Song Worth Singing’ – engendered an even bigger following. Spanning classics such as ‘Only You’, ‘Get Up, Get Down, Get Funky, Get Loose’ and ‘Close The Door’. By 1978, Teddy was seen to many as the top male sex symbol in music. His 1979 album, ‘Teddy’ strengthening his position with the mellow ‘Come Go With Me’ and ‘Turn Off The Lights’ in addition to the groovy ‘Do Me’. With the man going further in the downtempo mood on his 1980 ‘TP’ album featuring ‘Love TKO’ and the Ashford & Simpson penned ‘Is It Still Good To You’.
On a sad Mar. 18, 1982, Teddy got involved in a car crash which left him a paraplegic, paralyzed from the chest down.
With his contract with PIR now over, he ended up signing with Elektra Asylum. Releasing his debut-album – ‘Love Language’ – in 1984. An album which saw him duetting with a then unknown Whitney Houston on the mellow ‘Hold Me’. 4 years after, he scored his first #1 single in nearly a decade flirting with the then emerging New Jack Swing on ‘Joy’ from the album of the name.
A final hit would come in 1993 by the likes of the Reggie and Vincent Calloway penned ‘Believe In Love’ which opened his ‘A Little More Magic’ album.
Although on a wheeling chair since his tragic accident, Teddy kept on performing live sporadically until the announce of his retirement in 2006.
Pendergrass underwent successful surgery for colon cancer on June 05, 2009 then returned home to recover. A few weeks later, he got back to the hospital with respiratory issues. He sadly died 7 months after of respiratory failure on Jan. 13, 2010, aged 59…