Jan 14, 2010
The man who launched a thousand torrid love affairs, R&B legend Teddy Pendergrass died Wednesday evening, January 13, at the age of 59. Pendergrass, known for smash love ballads such as "Turn Off the Lights" and "Love TKO," died after a long illness, according to Lisa Barbaris, who described herself as a close friend and his last publicist. His family did not reveal details about his illness, but said it was related to complications from a 1982 car accident.
The crooner, who many affectionately knew as just "Teddy," started in music with a group called the Cadillacs in the late 1960s and was still with the group when it merged with Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes. He started as a drummer, but soon began to sing lead after the group heard his powerful voice. By 1972, Pendergrass's baritone could be heard on the classic Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes song "If You Don't Know Me by Now."\
After going solo, Pendergrass received several Grammy nominations, Billboard's 1977 Pop Album New Artist Award and an American Music Award for best R&B performer of 1978.
In 1982, Pendergrass was involved in a car accident that left him paralyzed. But Pendergrass returned to the studio in 1984 in his wheelchair to record an album and eventually appeared on stage again. Before his death, Pendergrass was working on a musical documenting his life, called "I Am Who I Am."
I’ll miss Teddy, one of the kings of “bedroom soul”. Click here to listen to guitarist Jeff Golub perform “Turn Off the Lights”, from his album Do It Again.