If you don't know Teddy Pendergrass by now, you will never, never, never know soul at its most sensual. After all, it was Pendergrass -- a Philadelphia native who grew up singing the Lord's praises and was an ordained minister by the age of ten -- who as much as anyone else ushered in the Golden Age of Tough-and-Tender Soul in the early Seventies (think Barry White, Isaac Hayes, Al Green). A self-taught drummer, Pendergrass joined Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes in 1970; it had been around hitless since the mid-Fifties. Then someone gave Pendergrass the mike and he put over a classic: "If You Don't Know Me By Now."
Pendergrass's impassioned vocals turned Philadelphia International Records into a hit factory and the young, handsome singer into a sex symbol. By the time he parted company with the Blue Notes in 1976, Pendergrass was a megastar, scoring gold or platinum with his first five solo releases.
Then in 1982 it all came crashing down. Literally. A car wreck left the then-32-year-old singer confined to a wheelchair. The accident did little to diminish Pendergrass's voice or faith. The following year he was back recording and performing live. Now he's come to Miami to show off his greatest hits. So take a listen -- and a lesson -- from Professor Pendergrass: Old-school soul is some old, cool soul.
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