*On Wednesday, Teddy Pendergrass, considered by many as the ultimate male soul singer died in Philadelphia at the age of 59.
The singer’s son, Teddy Pendergrass II, said his father passed away at a hospital in suburban Philadelphia. The singer underwent colon cancer surgery eight months ago and had “a difficult recovery,” his son said.
“To all his fans who loved his music, thank you,” his son said. “He will live on through his music.”
Pendergrass suffered a spinal cord injury and was paralyzed from the waist down in the 1982 car accident. He spent six months in a hospital but returned to recording the next year with the album “Love Language.”
Although he is best known for his soulful singing and passionate love ballads, Pendergrass got his start as a drummer and in 1969 hooked up with Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes.
By 1971 he had become the face and voice of the group which had signed with legendary producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff at Philadelphia International Records.
The Blue Notes scored smashes such as “The Love I Lost,” “Yesterday I Had the Blues” and “Wake Up, Everybody.”
It was inevitable that Pendergrass would go solo and did in 1976. And according to his website (www.teddypendergrass.com) he became the first black male singer in history to record five consecutive multi-platinum albums.
After playing to sold-out shows around the globe, tragedy struck in 1982 when he lost control of his Rolls-Royce and crashed in Philadelphia, resulting in severe spinal chord damage and paralyzing him from the waist down.
“They don’t fill you with hope after something like this,” Pendergrass told the Philadelphia Daily News in 2007.
“They tell you that your life is going to be shorter, but they don’t know by how much.”
The singer spent six months in a hospital after the accident but returned to recording the next year with the album “Love Language,” Philly.com reported
In 1985 he released “Working It Back,” which was followed by “Joy” (1988), “Truly Blessed” (1990) “A Little More Magic” (1993) and “You and I” (1997).
Gamble and Huff, in a joint statement, said that Pendergrass was “one of the greatest artists that the music industry has ever known, and there hasn’t been another one since.
“We’ve lost our voice and we’ve lost our best friend, but we’re thankful for what we had,” the statement read. “It was beautiful. He was one of the best.”
Earlier, Huff reminisced during an interview aired on WDAS-FM about Pendergrass’ first solo performance, which was at a club in California.
“That night I saw the coming of a superstar,” Huff said. “When Teddy walked out on the stage, he didn’t even open his mouth and the place went crazy with screaming females. He was just so dynamic, and when he started singing, he just blew them away.”
Gamble noted what it was about Pendergrass that drove all those ladies crazy.
“He was tall dark and handsome,” Gamble said. “He had a magnetism about him. He was injured 28 years ago and hung in there a long time. He was strong as a bull.”
Teddy Pendergrass is survived by his wife, his mother, a son, two daughters and nine grandchildren.
Watch Teddy perform (live) ‘Close The Door’:
Teddy performs (live) ‘When Somebody Loves You Back’: