Teddy Pendergrass, one of the main voices of the ultra-smooth "Philly Soul" sound of the '70s, passed away Wednesday evening in a Philadelphia hospital. The R&B singer had been hospitalized for several months following surgery for colon cancer, his son told the Associated Press
Pendergrass, 59, first attracted attention as the lead singer of Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, who became the standard-bearers of Philly Soul with songs such as "If You Don't Know Me By Now," but he originally joined that group as its drummer. After going solo, he became one of R&B's biggest stars and sex symbols through intimate bedroom jams like "Only You," "Love TKO" and "Turn Off the Lights."
"The Teddy Bear" was paralyzed from the waist down in a 1982 car accident, but continued performing and hitting the charts; his wheelchair-bound 1985 performance at Live Aid in his hometown of Philadelphia drew widespread acclaim. His music is featured prominently in Alan Rudolph's 1984 film Choose Me