Classics: Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes feat. Teddy Pendergrass – Wake Up Everybody (Philadelphia International Records)
“Wake up everybody no more sleepin’ in bed. No more backward thinkin’ time for thinkin’ ahead. The world has changed so very much from what it used to be…” Strange as to how some lyrics – courtesy of McFadden & Whitehead along with Vic Carstaphen – get to cross the test of time. As a matter of fact, nothing seems to have altered them. Thus leavin’ them so up to date nowadays.
The work of visionnaries? Call this whatever you want! But, once again, it’s as if we – the humanity – didn’t seem to hear the words of wisdom. Meanwhile most likely reproducing the same mistake from a generation to another.
This song just speaks for itself, standing as a pivotal cut in the history of Soul Music. In the league of gems such as Marvin Gaye‘s ‘Inner City Blues’ or The Temptations‘ ‘Ball Of Confusion’. Eventually inspiring Hip-Hop famous Wu-Tang Clan who gave it an interpolation back in 2014. This under the form of ‘A Better Tomorrow’.
The opening cut from their 1975 album of the likes which spanned the memorable ‘Don’t Leave Me This Way’… ‘Wake Up Everybody’ marked the end of a fruitful collaboration between Harold Melvin & Co and an uncredited Teddy Pendergrass. The latter opening soon after his account as a solo artist. Delivering four consecutive million-selling albums on Philadelphia International Records between 1977 and 1980.
Sadly, he got severely injured in a car crash in Philadelphia. This resulting in him being paralyzed from the chest down in 1982. He would make a winning return though two years after though, signing with the Elektra/Asylum label…
Born in Philadelphia, PA, to a religious family, Teddy Pendergrass‘s early singing happened in church. He dreamed of becoming a pastor at the time and eventually got his wish when ordained a minister at the age of 10. He started takin’ on drums during this period, securing his first professional gig with The Cadillacs as a drummer in the late 60’s. Teddy soon after caught up the attention of The Blue Notes‘ founder Harold Melvin who made him an offer to join the band. However, during a performance, Pendergrass began singing. With Melvin, impressed by his raspy baritone voice, makin’ him the lead singer of the group.
Their first single together – ‘I Miss You’ – came to light back in 1972. The success happened to be immediate. Opening an impressive series of hits. From ‘If You Don’t Know Me By Now’ to ‘The Love I Lost’. Not to mention ‘Wake Up Everybody’ and ‘Don’t Leave Me This Way’ which Thelma Houston turned into a Disco smash hit in 1976. Teddy leavin’ the group due to artistic and financial conflicts that same year…
He embarked on a solo career the year after with the release of his eponymous album. A solid package which features gems such as ‘You Can’t Hide From Yourself’ (only released as a single in Holland). But also ‘I Don’t Love You Anymore’ and ‘The More I Get, The More I Want’.
Its follow-up – ‘Life Is A Song Worth Singing’ – engendered an even bigger following. Spanning classics such as ‘Only You’, ‘Get Up, Get Down, Get Funky, Get Loose’ and ‘Close The Door’. By 1978, Teddy was seen to many as the top male sex symbol in music. His 1979 album, ‘Teddy’ strengthening his position with the mellow ‘Come Go With Me’ and ‘Turn Off The Lights’ in addition to the groovy ‘Do Me’. With the man going further in the downtempo mood on his 1980 ‘TP’ album featuring ‘Love TKO’ and the Ashford & Simpson penned ‘Is It Still Good To You’.
On a sad Mar. 18, 1982, Teddy got involved in a car crash which left him a paraplegic, paralyzed from the chest down.
With his contract with PIR now over, he ended up signing with Elektra Asylum. Releasing his debut-album – ‘Love Language’ – in 1984. An album which saw him duetting with a then unknown Whitney Houston on the mellow ‘Hold Me’. 4 years after, he scored his first #1 single in nearly a decade flirting with the then emerging New Jack Swing on ‘Joy’ from the album of the name.
A final hit would come in 1993 by the likes of the Reggie and Vincent Calloway penned ‘Believe In Love’ which opened his ‘A Little More Magic’ album.
Although on a wheeling chair since his tragic accident, Teddy kept on performing live sporadically until the announce of his retirement in 2006.
Pendergrass underwent successful surgery for colon cancer on June 05, 2009 then returned home to recover. A few weeks later, he got back to the hospital with respiratory issues. He sadly died 7 months after of respiratory failure on Jan. 13, 2010, aged 59…
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