PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - Teddy Pendergrass, the seductive American rhythm-and-blues singer who continued his recording career after he was paralyzed in a 1982 car accident, has died at the age of 59, media reports said on Thursday.
Pendergrass’s son, Teddy Pendergrass II, told the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper that his father died on Wednesday at a Philadelphia-area hospital. He had undergone colon cancer surgery eight months ago and his son said he had a difficult recovery.
Pendergrass began his career as a drummer but first rose to fame in the 1970s when he became lead singer of Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, which had hits such as “If You Don’t Know Me by Now” and “I Miss You.”
After leaving the Blue Notes for a solo career, he had a string of hit love ballads that were considered musical aphrodisiacs by his fans. His solo hits, notable for his smooth baritone and sensual delivery, included ”I Don’t Love You Anymore,“ ”Close the Door,“ ”Turn off the Lights“ and ”Love
Pendergrass crashed his Rolls-Royce in Philadelphia in 1982 and was left paralyzed from the waist down. He resumed his recording career the next year with the album “Love Language” and returned to the stage by performing from his wheelchair at the Live Aid concert in 1985.
He started the Teddy Pendergrass Alliance in 1998 to benefit victims of spinal cord injuries.
The team of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff wrote and produced many of Pendergrass’s hits and Huff recalled the singer’s solo debut at a Los Angeles nightclub.
“That night I saw the coming of a superstar,” Huff said in an interview with radio station WDAS. “When Teddy walked out on the stage, he didn’t even open his mouth and the place went crazy with screaming females. He was just so dynamic and when he started singing, he just blew them away.”
Writing by Bill Trott; Editing by Paul Casciato