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Teddy Pendergrass Biography


Home > Music > P > Pendergrass, Teddy > Biography


Birth Name: Theodore DeReese Pendergrass
Born: 1950/03/26
Birth Place: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: 2010/01/13
Years Active: 1970–2006
Genres: R&B, Soul, Gospel, Jazz


Theodore DeReese "Teddy" Pendergrass (March 26, 1950 – January 13, 2010) was an American R&B/soul singer and songwriter. Pendergrass first rose to fame as lead singer of Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes in the 1970s before a successful solo career at the end of the decade.

In 1982, he was severely injured in an auto accident in Philadelphia, resulting in his being paralyzed from the waist down. After his injury, the affable entertainer founded the Teddy Pendergrass Alliance, a foundation that helps those with spinal cord injuries.

In 1977, Pendergrass released his self-titled album, which went platinum on the strength of the disco hit, "I Don't Love You Anymore". Its follow-up single, "The Whole Town's Laughing At Me", became a top 20 R&B hit. It was quickly followed by "Life Is a Song Worth Singing," in 1978. That album was even more successful with its singles including "Only You" and "Close the Door". The disco single, "Get Up, Get Down, Get Funky, Get Loose" was popular in dance clubs. 1979 brought two successes, "Teddy" and the live release, "Live Coast to Coast." Hits off "Teddy" included "Come and Go With Me" and "Turn Off the Lights".

His 1980 album, "TP," included his signature song, "Love TKO" and the Ashford & Simpson composition, "Is It Still Good to You". Between 1977 and 1981, Pendergrass landed five consecutive platinum albums, which was a then-record setting number for a rhythm and blues artist.

In 1988, Pendergrass scored his first R&B number-one hit in nearly a decade when the new jack swing-styled "Joy", off his album of the same name, was released. In 2006, Pendergrass announced his retirement from the music business. In 2007, he briefly returned to performing to participate in Teddy 25: A Celebration of Life, Hope & Possibilities, a 25th anniversary awards ceremony that marked Pendergrass' accident date, but also raised money for his charity, The Teddy Pendergrass Alliance, and honored those who helped Pendergrass since his accident.

On June 5, 2009, Pendergrass underwent successful surgery for colon cancer and recovered to return home. A few weeks later he returned to the hospital with respiratory issues. After seven months, he died of respiratory failure on January 13, 2010.