The legend’s doctor says he was “optimistic” in final days.
In 2008 we sat down with Teddy Pendergrass in his home to interview him about the Teddy Pendergrass Alliance, which he founded to help people, like him, suffering from spinal cord injuries. He’d lived life paralyzed from the chest down for 26 years, and had lots of insight to offer the newly injured.
For that story we also interviewed Teddy’s doctor since his accident, Guy Fried, the chief medical officer at Magee Rehabilitation where Teddy learned to get his life back. After hearing the news early Thursday that Teddy had passed, we called Fried, who tells us he’d seen him just a few short months ago, and has been in contact with his family throughout Teddy’s bout with the colon cancer that took his life on January 13.
Fried says Teddy was planning a trip back to Africa to play a concert and, even after learning of his illness, “he was always optimistic, always full of energy and full of respect and bright ideas for the future. He had lots of ideas for fundraising [for TPA] and singing and was always looking for what would come along next.”
Fried will remember Teddy as a man who was very active in his own recovery, and dedicated to helping others. “Teddy has always been very warm, giving, open and honest. He didn’t want to dwell on the wheelchair. He wanted to transcend the wheelchair. When he was with people and sharing with people he totally transcended the paralysis.”
Reuters reports that Teddy Pendergrass, a Philly R&B icon who was paralyzed in a car accident in 1982, has died at the age of 59. "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, "'urn 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."
The great Teddy Pendergrass, an anchor of the Philadelphia R&B scene, died this week -- nearly three decades after being paralyzed in a car accident. In 2008, PW music editor Brian McManus caught up with Pendergrass.
Like the smooth sound of Gamble and Huff or John Oates' mustache, Teddy Pendergrass' gruff but silky voice will be forever stamped on the face of Philadelphia music. He was the first black artist to...
PW's Music Issue 2014