Classics: McFadden & Whitehead – Ain’t No Stoppin Us Now (Philadelphia International Records)
‘Ain’t No Stoppin Us Now’ is most definitely a quintessential cut in the history of contemporary music. With its lyrics still resonating nowadays, speakin’ about reachin’ success despite havin’ faced countless challenges.
Therefore, no wonder how the Afro-American community went on to consider it as the new Black national anthem. Meanwhile, on a more personal level, it showed label heads Gamble & Huff, how McFadden & Whitehead could be more than songwriters. Their track receiving extra recognition a few months after its release. With Frankie Crocker turnin’ it into NYC radio WBLS‘s Summer anthem.
Not surprisingly, ‘Ain’t No Stoppin Us Now’ influenced countless artists. From radio DJ Jocko who gave it a spoken word / Rap extrapolation – ‘Rhythm Talk’ – on the same label. To NYC Hispanic outfit Charanga 76 who covered it in Spanish (‘No Nos Pararan’). Not to mention Italian artist Pino D’Angio who took obvious inspiration from it the year after on the memorable ‘Ma Quale Idea’. If not, although to a lesser extend, Sharon Redd on ‘Never Give You Up’ back in 1982…
Olanta, SC native Gene McFadden and John Whitehead met in Philadelphia during their school days in the 60’s. Together, they formed The Epsilons along with Lloyd Parkes who later joined Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes.
When Otis Redding came to the city, he invited them to become part of his revue. This leading them to set up a deal with Stax Records where they released ‘The Echo’.
After the departure of Parkes, they started working with Gamble & Huff on their North Bay label. Then soon after on their PIR label where they mostly worked as songwriting and production team. Eventually becoming to Philadelphia International Records what Holland/Dozier/Holland happened to be to Motown.
They wrote and / or produced an incredible amount of standards. From ‘Backstabbers’ for The O’Jays’ to ‘I’ll Always Love My Mama’ for The Intruders. But also ‘Wake Up Everybody’ for Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes. Or ‘Style Of Life’ for The Jacksons. Not to mention ‘The More I Get The More I Want’ for Teddy Pendergrass. And ‘Let’s Groove’ for Archie Bell & The Drells to name a few.
As artists, they scored their biggest classic with the uplifting ‘Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now’, from their eponymous debut-album in 1979. A song soon after given a Rap/spoken word version by Douglas ‘Jocko’ Henderson (‘Rhythm Talk’). But also a Spanish one by Charanga 76 titled ‘No Nos Pararan’. It most likely also had a big influence on Italian Disco classic ‘Ma Quale Idea’ by Pino D’Angio the year after. With Stan Mosley addin’ his name to the list. Meanwhile givin’ it an extra cover version 38 years later.
Away from PIR, they also worked with luminaries such as Melba Moore, Freddie Jackson and Beau Williams among others. They eventually recorded a new version of ‘Ain’t No Stoppin Us Now’ back in 1984 for Sutra Records.
On May 11, 2004, John Whitehead was shot dead while fixing a car outside his home in Philadelphia, in an apparent case of mistaken identity. He was 55. The case remains unsolved…
Gene McFadden sadly died of liver and lung cancer on Jan. 27, 2006. He was 56.
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