Does your average music fan think of Teddy Pendergrass? It’s arguable that his ilk doesn’t even exist anymore. As popular soul singers become increasingly wispier (and whiter…) masculine, seductive stylists like T.P. have fallen by the wayside. Seriously…has anyone in this vein made a splash since Anthony Hamilton a decade ago? Maybe that’s a question to be asked in another article. Back to Teddy…
T.P. was the man for a solid five-year stretch in the late Seventies and early Eighties. All of his albums went Platinum or better, and he sold out dates across the country with his legendary “For Women Only” shows. Eddie Murphy even based a comedy routine on Teddy’s prowess with the ladies. Hell, the guy hosted the American Music Awards in 1981! He was a superstar, and not just a soul superstar either.
In 1982, tragedy struck when his car spun out of control on the night of the NBA All-Star Game in Teddy’s hometown of Philadelphia. The singer was paralyzed from the waist down and confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Miraculously, the accident didn’t end his recording career, and Teddy went on to top the R&B charts regularly until the mid-’90s.
One of his last major hits (Teddy passed away in 2010) was 1993’s “Believe In Love.” In its original version, it’s a fairly nondescript slice of new jack, a case of T.P. attempting, somewhat awkwardly, to place himself into a then-modern trend. Released as a single towards the end of the year, “Believe” was given a new lease on life thanks to a masterful remix by Phat Phili.
This is a fucking jam, man.
“Believe In Love” peaked at #14 R&B, and “bubbled under” for a few weeks without hitting the Hot 100. Of course, chart success is no barometer of how good a song is, but Teddy deserved better.