The late Teddy Pendergrass was born on the 26th March 1950 and was the first solo male black artist to achieve five consecutive multi-platinum albums during his five year reign at Philadelphia International Records (PIR) as a solo artist.
Gamble and Huff, the owners of PIR, made Teddy Pendergrass into an international super-star with a large multi-racial female fan base across the globe. In addition, Teddy was one of the few black male artists to place numbers ones on the Billboard R&B and Soul singles chart listings in over three decades.
The first solo album of his career achieved the number 5 position in 1977 on the Billboard Soul Album Chart and also achieved multi-platinum status. The album was simply entitled “Teddy Pendergrass”.
“Life Is A Song Worth Singing” peaked at number one for week ending 19th August 1978 on the Billboard Soul Album Chart listings for two weeks, in the process selling over two million plus copies. Teddy’s second album was also to be certified multi-platinum by the RIAA, featuring the million-selling single “Close The Door”, which achieved the number one position on 8th July 1978 (2 weeks).
Teddy’s third studio album “Teddy” achieved greater success by peaking at number 5 on the Billboard Pop Album Chart Listings and staying in the Top Ten for several weeks. He did better on the Billboard Soul Album Chart listing by taking the number one position for week ending 4th August 1979, staying at the summit for 4 weeks. The best showing of his career, out-selling the first two solo albums, bringing the total of all three studio albums to approximately 7 million units sold in North America.
He trod a path that others were afraid to adventure along, with the support of Alive Entertainment Management (an artist management company based in Los Angeles, under the leadership of Shep Gordon). Then, Teddy was the only Black Artist to successfully promote and hold a female-only concert. When Teddy was signed to Gamble and Huff’s Philadelphia International Records Label, he was involved in the development of a brand of “Teddy Bear” jeans for women customers only, which were sold in several shops across America and on his concert tour in America. Teddy formed his own company, Teddy Bear Productions Inc, of which he was chairman and president. Teddy was a great visionary and forerunner of corporate branding, long before such artists as Jay-Z and his wife Beyoncé developed their own brands.
On the strength of his previous studio albums and at the height of his popularity, Teddy entered the 1980s with a bang, producing two multi-platinum albums in succession in the same year in 1980.
“TP” was released on 9th August 1980, entered the Billboard R&B album chart the following week and peaked at number 3. It stayed on the chart for 39 weeks, in the process achieving multi-platinum status for over two million copies sold in America, Teddy’s third studio album to achieve multi-platinum status in America.
“Joy” was his second single to reach the summit of the Billboard R&B singles chart listing on 25th June 1988 (2 weeks).
The final single of his career so far to obtain the number one position was “It Should’ve Been You” in 1991. It was the biggest-selling single of his career since “Close The Door”. It was number one for two weeks, ranking number one on radio and retail points. The single was co-written and produced by Teddy with Terry Price.
The fifth album was entitled “It’s Time For Love”.
By 1991, according to the RIAA (Record Industry Association of America), Teddy had earned 4 gold albums and 8 platinum albums with a little help from Pop radio stations across America. Also his four studio albums on Elektra Entertainment since his auto accident have sold over 2.5 million copies without the support of concert tours.
Pendergrass’s songs have been sampled by numerous soul and R&B artists, and have been used in a number of TV commercials and films around the world, including the “Nutty Professor, Old Navy and Chevrolet.
Teddy later became an inspirational figure to millions in the 28 years since he was left quadriplegic from a horrific 1982 car accident. He established the charitable Teddy Pendergrass Alliance (TPA) in 1987 and, in 2007, formed a partnership with the National Spinal Cord Injury Association to help people with injuries during the early stages of recovery, which led to his recognition that year as one of the most influential SCI activists with his induction into the Spinal Cord Injury Association Hall of Fame.
Teddy is certainly the prince of the Philadelphia Sound, with a powerful voice that stands out as a dynamic brand around the world that will earn multi streams of income for the Gamble and Huff organisation for many years to come.
“Teddy was truly blessed with an incredible talent that was one of a kind.”