Audio Interview : Teddy Pendergrass & NPR – 2007 (available for download via FREE DOWNLOAD page on TheRFW.com
NPR.com January 15, 2010 – For most of his childhood, R&B singer Teddy Pendergrass thought he was destined for the pulpit. It wasn’t until the “ripe old age” of 13 that music called to him at a rock and roll show in Philadelphia.
That night changed his life forever.
“My jaws dropped. I was like, ‘My God’ … That’s what I want to do,” he told Terry Gross
He broke into the R&B world in the 1970s as a drummer for The Cadillacs, then as a singer for Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes. When he went solo, Pendergrass became known for the love ballads “I Don’t Love You Anymore,” “Close The Door” and “Turn Off The Lights,” and for playing “for-women-only” shows.
Pendergrass died Wednesday following a battle with colon cancer. He was 59.
After a 1982 car accident left him paralyzed, Pendergrass continued to perform and make music. He released his last album of new material, You and I, in 1997.
In a 1998 interview, he reflected on rising to fame at a young age.
“It was all new,” he said. “At 28-years-old, I mean, I was buying a 34-room mansion … filling up the garage with Rolls-Royces and Ferraris.”
“Sometimes your head is too big to get through a door and mine got there.”
Before his death, Pendergrass had co-written songs for the biographical musical production I Am Who I Am: The Story of Teddy Pendergrass.
Teddy Pendergrass was nominated for four Grammys and won the award for best male R&B vocal performance for “Joy” in 1989.