Theodore DeReese Pendergrass was born on March 26, 1950 in Philadelphia. He began is music career in gospel music, singing in local Philadelphia churches, and became an ordained minister at the age of 10. By 15, he had become a self-taught drummer and joined a local teen pop group. Not soon after he was the drummer for the Cadillacs.
In the 1960’s, the Cadillacs became Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, where Teddy was lead singer for most of the groups span. Once the group split, Teddy went solo. This spiked his career, landing him three platinum albums and many nominations. He was popular in the industry, not only due to his crossover popularity but also due to him buying a mansion akin to Elvis’ Graceland, located just outside his hometown of Philadelphia. By early 1982, Pendergrass was perhaps the leading R&B male artist of his day, equaling the popularity of all others in the R&B field.
In 1982, Teddy was in a car accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down. Although he continued to work in the industry, he spent the latter time in his life behind the scenes for labels.
In 2006, Pendergrass announced his retirement from the music business. In 2007, he briefly returned to performing to participate in Teddy 25: A Celebration of Life, Hope & Possibilities, a 25th anniversary awards ceremony that marked Pendergrass’ accident date, but also raised money for his charity, The Teddy Pendergrass Alliance. Sadly, he passed away in 2010 from complications following his surgery to remove his colon cancer. He will always have contributions as one of the greatest R&B artists of his time.