In the late '70s, when the fortunes of Motown Records seemed to be flagging, Rick James came along and rescued the company, providing funky hits that updated the label's style and saw it through into the mid-'80s. Actually, James had been with Motown earlier, though nothing had come of it.
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Barry White was one of the Greatest Musicians of all time! His larger than life frame was only eclipsed by his larger than life talent. We want you to take a minute to vote for your favorite song by the Maestro! Barry White is Truly Gone But Not Forgotten.
Say the name Barry White and you'd be hard pressed to follow it with the name of any other recording artist with such a huge, cross-sectional following. He was at home appearing on "Soul Train", guesting with a full band on "The Today Show", and appearing in cartoon form in various episodes of "The Simpsons". During the '70s, Dinah Shore devoted a full hour of her daily syndicated "Dinah!" show to White. While there was a period where Barry White wasn't releasing records or making the pop charts, he did stay active touring and appearing on other artists' records including Quincy Jones' "The Secret Garden (The Seduction Suite)", Regina Belle, and rap star Big Daddy Kane's "All of Me." It's surprising to find out that such an illustrious career almost didn't happen because White wasn't interested in being a recording artist.
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We're paying tribute to our very own Teddy Pendergrass! Go through the list, vote for your favorite song, and Patty Jackson will play your picks in her Gone But Not Forgotten special!
R&B Great Teddy Pendergrass Dead at 59 After Cancer Battle
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 TKO."
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."
We're saluting the King of Pop and one of the Greatest Entertainers who has ever walked the Earth: Michael Jackson! What's your favorite Michael song? Vote now and you can hear it during our GBNF special!!!
Michael Jackson was unquestionably the biggest pop star of the '80s, and one of the most popular recording artists of all time. In his prime, Jackson was an unstoppable juggernaut, possessed of all the tools to dominate the charts seemingly at will: an instantly identifiable voice, eye-popping dance moves, stunning musical versatility, and loads of sheer star power. His 1982 blockbuster Thriller became the biggest-selling album of all time (probably his best-known accomplishment), and he was the first black artist to find stardom on MTV, breaking down innumerable boundaries both for his race and for music video as an art form.
Who had a smoother, more beautiful voice than Marvin Gaye?
One of the most gifted, visionary, and enduring talents ever launched into orbit by the Motown hit machine, Marvin Gaye blazed a trail in popular music.
Moving from lean, powerful R&B to stylish, sophisticated soul to finally arrive at an intensely political and personal form of artistic self-expression, his work not only redefined soul music as a creative force but also expanded its impact as an agent for social change.
WDAS remembers him -
on what would have been his 72nd birthday.
Vote for Your Favorite Marvin Gaye Song!
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We're honoring one of the GREATEST singers in the history of music: Luther Vandross!
His smooth style, his vocal range and his ability to tell a story are second to none! Vote for your favorite Luther song here!
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Luther Vandross was undeniably one of the most significant vocalists of our time. This ultimate singer of songs had a groove that could not be copied. A few tried and disappeared, but Luther remained.
Since the 1981 platinum-selling release of "Never Too Much", Luther's recording career spanned over two decades and resulted in a lifetime of chart-topping hits. Through the 1980s, he recorded a string of platinum albums. He scored his first Grammy Award in 1989 with "Here And Now." 2003's Dance With My Father received four Grammy Awards and generated worldwide sales exceeding 3 million copies. Collectively, Luther's body of work has sold in excess of 30 millions records worldwide, winning eight Grammy Awards, numerous Soul Train, BET, NAACP Image Awards and American Music Awards.
He passed away July 1, 2005.
We remember him today -
on what would have been his 60th birthday.
No white artist has sung R&B more convincingly than Teena Marie, whose big, robust vocals are so black-sounding that when she was starting out, some listeners wondered if she was a light-skinned African-American. Marie grew up in west Los Angeles in a neighborhood that was nicknamed "Venice Harlem" because of its heavy black population. The singer/songwriter/producer was in her early twenties when, around 1977, she landed a job at Motown Records. It was at Motown that she met her mentor and paramour-to-be, Rick James, who ended up doing all of the writing and producing for her debut album of 1979, Wild and Peaceful.
Read More About Teena Marie
Browse a gallery of Teena Marie photos, complete with her bio and trivia
Find videos, song lyrics, and more on Teena Marie's On Demand page.
Bernie Wilson, baritone vocalist for Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes, died early Sunday, December 26, 2010 from undisclosed medical complications in Voorhees, NJ. The passing of Wilson leaves Lloyd Park as the sole surviving member of the classic lineup of The Blue Notes.
Wilson joined Melvin, Teddy Pendergrass, Lawrence Brown, and Lloyd Banks in the lineup that was signed to Philadelphia International Records in 1972. They became one of the most popular groups in R&B during that era, with hits such as "If You Don't Know Me By Now," "The Love I Lost" and "Wake Up Everybody."
Watch videos, read song lyrics, browse photos and more on Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes' On Demand page.
Robert Wilson, the bassist for the funk and R&B group the Gap Band, has died. He was 53.
His death was confirmed by Karen Lee, publicist for his brother and Gap Band singer Charlie Wilson.
Robert Wilson had been touring over the past few weeks, including a stop in his hometown in Tulsa, Okla. The Tulsa World reported that he died in Los Angeles on Sunday.
Wilson provided the bass backbone for the trio, which also included another brother, Ronnie. They rocketed to stardom in the 1980s with hits like "Outstanding," "You Dropped a Bomb On Me" and "Yearning for Your Love." He was known as the 'Godfather of Bass Guitar'.
Photo: Getty Image
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A contemporary soul singer whose smooth yet robust vocals brought energy and emotion to even his most serene recordings, Gerald Levert grew up in the shadows of his father, Eddie Levert, Sr., of the O'Jays. As a child, his father's status in the music industry nurtured and helped prepare Gerald for his prosperous music career as a writer, arranger, producer, and performer.
In addition to his impressive string of hits, Gerald Levert rendered his services as songwriter, vocalist, and producer to many artists, such as the O'Jays, Barry White, Stephanie Mills, Troop, Teddy Pendergrass, the Winans, Patti Labelle, Rude Boys, and on and on. In 1997, Gerald added another dimension to his prosperous career; he joined forces with R&B vocalists Keith Sweat and Johnny Gill under the acronym LSG, spawning the hit single "My Body."
Levert died on November 10, 2006, at the age of 40. By mistake, he had taken a lethal combination of prescription and over-the-counter drugs. The album he had just completed, In My Songs, was released a day before Valentine's Day 2007. Something to Talk About, recorded with his father, followed that June.
Craig Lytle, All Music Guide
Watch videos, read song lyrics, browse photos and more on Gerald Levert's On Demand page.
Tribute & Reflections
Download & listen to an all-star tribute to the Philly great
The history of modern soul music is unfortunately littered with stories of truly magnificent artists who spent much of their adult lives fighting personal demons while creating seminal music. Phyllis Hyman is, sadly, one of those stories.
Kenny Gamble said of Philadelphia-born Phyllis Hyman, "It saddens me to think of her passing so soon into the prime of her life, yet when I think of her, I think of her feelings of great joy. Joy for having the opportunity to have worked with such an outstanding voice. She was one of the most loyal artists that I have ever had the pleasure of working with. "
We remember her today. She would have turned 61 on July 6.
The Philadelphia native was a popular jazz club singer in New York when hot producer Norman Connors witnessed her show and pegged her to perform a cover of the Stylistics' "Betcha By Golly Wow" on his You Are My Starship album. Her emotive, jazzy stylings melded perfectly with Connors' production, and her stunning performance resulted in her being signed by Buddah Records for a 1977 self-titled solo debut.
Her first album was a moderate success, and included a very nice cover of the Spinners' "I Don't Want To Lose You. " The next year Buddah merged into Arista Records and Hyman embarked on a series of albums that scored well in the emerging urban adult contemporary format, but with little crossover success. On each album she demonstrated that she was developing into one of the finest soul vocalists in the world. And while she was not a "singles" artist, she recorded her share of memorable radio cuts, including "You Know How to Love Me," "Riding the Tiger," "Can't We Fall In Love Again" (with Michael Henderson), and the dramatic "Somewhere In My Lifetime". She also emerged as a fine concert performer, and became a headliner in multi-artist soul shows around the world.
Mutual dissatisfaction between Hyman and Arista led to her contract not being renewed in 1982. She instead spent her time guesting on other artists' albums and performing on stage. It would be four years before she would record again, going back home and signing with Gamble & Huff's Philadelphia International Records,
a label known for the kind of lush production and strong material that appeared perfect for Hyman. The match worked beautifully out of the box. She scored immediately with her greatest album, 1987's Living All Alone, a wonderful collaboration with both Gamble & Huff and the great Thom Bell. The first single from that album was "Old Friend," a Thom Bell/Linda Creed piano ballad that was perhaps the year's most beautiful soul recording, and a cut that fit Hyman like a glove. It is truly an essential track for any soul ballad lover. The album's other highlight was the moody title song, a haunting Gamble & Huff masterpiece. Hyman then disappeared again from the radio, as PIR changed distribution agreements, resulting in a four year wait before the release of her Nick Martinelli-produced Prime of My Life and her biggest hit, "Don't Wanna Change the World. "
Unfortunately as she reached age 40, while she was approaching her creative peak, Hyman was increasingly facing personal problems. Alcohol dependency, weight gain and the fear of losing her fashion model-like beauty haunted her, leading to more erratic behavior. Ultimately, her personal demons overcame her, and she committed suicide before a show in 1995, shocking her legions of fans. Later that year, a posthumous album, I Refuse To Be Lonely, her final work, clearly showed lyrically the problems she was facing in her last days, though at times displaying a hope that she could escape them.
As with many great artists, Hyman has become more appreciated posthumously. Though her popularity during her life was generally limited to soul and smooth jazz audiences, her influence on songstresses from Anita Baker to Tamia is evident, and her music has aged wonderfully, much of it sounding as engaging now as it did 20 years ago.
By Chris Rizik, soultracks.com/phyllis_hyman.htm
Want to share memories of Phyllis? Request a favorite song?
Gary Coleman was known for his childhood role as Arnold Jackson in "Diff'rent Strokes" from 1978-1986. After a successful childhood acting career, he struggled financially later in life. In 1993, he sued his parents and business adviser over misappropriation of his assets.
On May 26, 2010, he was admitted into the hospital in Provo, Utah after falling and hitting his head. He was announced to be in critical condition on the morning of May 27, 2010, but his condition subsequently worsened by mid-afternoon. He died on May 28, 2010.
For ongoing updates on Gary Coleman's estate and mysterious death, visit Patty's 411 Report.
AUGUST 10, 2008 - LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Oscar-winning soul singer Isaac Hayes died in Memphis on Sunday, aged 65, his friend and former manager Onzie Horne said.
Horne told Reuters that he had spoken to Hayes' wife, who confirmed that Hayes was found unconscious at his home, and rushed to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Hayes, a flamboyant, deep-voiced performer, won an Academy Award for "Theme from 'Shaft.'" Along with David Porter, he also co-wrote soul classics for Sam and Dave, such as "Soul Man" and "When Something is Wrong With My Baby." He was born in Covington, Tennessee, the second child of Isaac Hayes, Sr. and Eula Hayes. Isaac Hayes began singing at church at age 5 and taught himself to play piano, Hammond organ, flute and saxophone. He grew up picking cotton on farms in Shelby and Tipton Counties after his mother died young and his father left the family. Hayes dropped out of high school but completed his diploma at age 21. Although Hayes was offered music scholarships from several colleges and universities after graduating from high school, he declined them because of family obligations.
Hayes' recording career began in the early 1960s as a session player for Stax Records. Later he along with David Porter produced many songs for Sam & Dave, Carla Thomas and other Stax artists. His album Hot Buttered Soul was released in 1969 and hit #8 on the US Charts.
Isaac Hayes was known for doing humanitarian work in Ghana, and was crowned as the honorary king of the Ada, Ghana region in 1992. He may be better known to younger fans for supplying the voice of Chef on the hit cartoon series "South Park."
Photo: Getty Images
AUGUST 8, 2008 - CHICAGO - Bernie Mac, the actor and comedian who teamed up in the casino heist caper "Ocean's Eleven" and gained a prestigious Peabody Award for his sitcom "The Bernie Mac Show," died Saturday at age 50.
"Actor/comedian Bernie Mac passed away this morning from complications due to pneumonia in a Chicago area hospital," his publicist, Danica Smith, said in a statement from Los Angeles.
She said no other details were available and asked that his family's privacy be respected.
The comedian suffered from sarcoidosis, an inflammatory lung disease that produces tiny lumps of cells in the body's organs, but had said the condition went into remission in 2005. He recently was hospitalized and treated for pneumonia, which his publicist said was not related to the disease.
Recently, Mac's brand of comedy caught him flack when he was heckled during a surprise appearance at a July fundraiser for Democratic presidential candidate and fellow Chicagoan Barack Obama.
Toward the end of a 10-minute standup routine, Mac joked about menopause, sexual infidelity and promiscuity, and used occasional crude language. The performance earned him a rebuke from Obama's campaign.
But despite controversy or difficulties, in his words, Mac was always a performer.
"Wherever I am, I have to play," he said in 2002. "I have to put on a good show."
Photo: Getty Images
Sean Levert was born in Cleveland, Ohio and was the son of Eddie Levert, who sang with The O'Jays. He formed the trio LeVert with older brother Gerald Levert and childhood friend Mark Gordon. They scored several smash hits on the U.S. R&B charts in the 1980s and early 1990s. In 1995, Sean launched a solo career with the album The Other Side on Atlantic Records which peaked at #22 on the U.S. R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and #146 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album yielded the charting singles "Put Your Body Where Your Mouth Is" and "Same One" that same year.
Levert, 39, was pronounced dead at Lutheran Hospital just before midnight Sunday. Although an autopsy was completed Monday afternoon, no cause of death was determined.