Music biz honors "Philly Soul" duo Gamble & Huff

Tue May 19, 2009 2:12pm EDT
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By Dean Goodman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - It didn't seem prescient when they wrote the song 40 years ago, but "Only the Strong Survive" summarizes the career of soul-music luminaries Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff.

The duo took over where Motown left off, dominating the pop charts during the 1970s with hit songs they wrote and produced for the likes of the O'Jays, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, Lou Rawls, Billy Paul, the Intruders and the Stylistics

Gamble and Huff, as they are professionally known, helped popularize the "Philly Soul" sound of the decade through their label Philadelphia International Records, which is based to this day in the City of Brotherly Love.

They wrote or co-wrote about 3,000 songs during their heyday, still own the masters and copyrights, and keep busy licensing the tunes for use in movies, TV and commercials.

"Every time I turn around, my wife is hollerin' 'One of your songs is in the movies,'" Huff, 67, said in a recent interview with Reuters, sitting alongside Gamble.

One would have to try pretty hard to go through a week without hearing a Gamble and Huff tune on the radio or the screen. The catalog includes "Love Train" by the O'Jays, "When Will I See You Again" by the Three Degrees, Paul's "Me and Mrs. Jones," Rawls' "You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine," and Jerry Butler's "Only the Strong Survive" (which Butler co-wrote).

And then there are the covers, whether it be Simply Red's take on Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes' "If You Don't Know Me By Now," for which Gamble and Huff won a songwriting Grammy; Third World's update of the O'Jays' "Now That We've Found Love"; or the Rolling Stones performing "Love Train" during their recent tour.


<p>Songwriters Kenneth Gamble (L) and Leon Huff pose during a portrait session in Beverly Hills, California May 18, 2009. REUTERS/Fred Prouser</p>