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Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes

Harold Melvin was one of the driving forces behind Philadelphia soul, leading his group the Blue Notes to the top of the charts during their stint on Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff's Philadelphia International label. Despite Melvin's billing out front, the Blue Notes' focal point was lead singer and onetime drummer Teddy Pendergrass, whose surging baritone graced the Blue Notes' recordings during their glory years of 1972-1975 and gave them a truly distinctive sound. Their output ranged from sweeping, extended proto-disco dance tracks to silky, smoldering ballads, all wrapped up in Gamble and Huff's lushly orchestrated production. When Pendergrass left for a solo career, Melvin & the Blue Notes' commercial fortunes largely reverted to the pre-Pendergrass days (of which there were quite a few), although they did continue to record for a time. They never really disbanded, and by the time Melvin passed away in 1997, he'd been leading the Blue Notes for over four decades.

Melvin was born June 25, 1939, in Philadelphia. A self-taught pianist, he began singing doo wop as a teenager with a group called the Charlemagnes, and put together the very first edition of the Blue Notes in 1954. The original lineup was a quintet featuring Melvin as the lead singer (for a time), songwriter, arranger, and choreographer; ironically, he would mostly relinquish those duties by the time the group achieved its greatest success. The other members were co-leader Bernard Williams, Roosevelt Brodie, Jesse Gillis, Jr., and Franklin Peaker. The Blue Notes cut their first single, "If You Love Me," for Josie in 1956, and turned it into a regional hit. They recorded for several other labels over the next few years, Dot chief among them, before scoring their first R&B chart hit in 1960 with "My Hero" (released on Val-Ue). Numerous personnel shifts kept the group in flux despite steady recording activity, and Bernard Williams split off to lead what he dubbed the Original Blue Notes in the mid-'60s. Melvin assembled a new version of the Blue Notes centered around lead singer John Atkins, who returned the group to the R&B charts in 1965 with the Landa single "Get Out (And Let Me Cry)." Further releases on Arctic, Checker, and Uni followed over the rest of the '60s, as well as more personnel changes. During the late '60s, the group toured often with the Cadillacs, whose young drummer Teddy Pendergrass would prove to be Melvin's greatest discovery.

Pendergrass first joined the Blue Notes' backing band, but demonstrated so much vocal talent that after John Atkins left in 1970, Melvin soon elevated him to the post of lead vocalist. This move helped them land a deal with Gamble and Huff's Philadelphia International label in 1972, just as the company was taking its place as soul music's new epicenter; Pendergrass' voice was similar to that of Dells singer Marvin Junior, whom Gamble & Huff had courted heavily. By this time, the Blue Notes consisted of Melvin, Pendergrass, bass vocalist Lawrence Brown, baritone vocalist Bernard Wilson, and tenor vocalist Lloyd Parks. With Gamble & Huff now supplying top-quality material and production, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes would become one of the most popular groups in R&B over the next few years. Their self-titled debut mostly featured songs that had been written in anticipation of landing Marvin Junior. The first single, "I Miss You," was a hit on the R&B charts, but their second was a smash -- the classic ballad "If You Don't Know Me by Now," which featured an anguished, star-making vocal turn from Pendergrass. "If You Don't Know Me by Now" went all the way to number one R&B, and also became their only Top Five hit on the pop side; it was later covered in 1989 for a number one hit by Simply Red.

The Blue Notes scored again in 1973 with the string-laden dance track "The Love I Lost," credited by many observers as one of the first disco records; it was their second R&B chart-topper and Top Ten pop single. The accompanying album, Black & Blue, produced another R&B Top Ten in the follow-up "Satisfaction Guaranteed (Or Take Your Love Back)." In 1974, Lloyd Parks was replaced by Jerry Cummings, who debuted on the R&B chart-topping LP To Be True. "Where Are All My Friends" and "Bad Luck" continued their string of Top Ten R&B hits, and a new addition to the group, female vocalist Sharon Paige, helped bring them back to the top of the R&B charts in 1975 with the duet "Hope That We Can Be Together Soon." Another excellent album followed later that year in Wake Up Everybody, whose title track was another R&B number one; "Tell the World How I Feel About 'Cha Baby" also reached the R&B Top Ten, and the album cut "Don't Leave Me This Way" was later covered for a disco smash by Thelma Houston.

However, tension was building within the group. The heavily spotlighted Pendergrass was hungry for separate billing, but Melvin, still the group's chief organizing force, turned him down. In 1976, Pendergrass left the Blue Notes for a solo career that quickly made him one of R&B's top sex symbols. Sharon Paige helped fill his shoes on lead vocals, as well as new male lead David Ebo, whose sound was fairly similar to Pendergrass'. However, Pendergrass' departure also signaled the end of the Blue Notes' relationship with Philadelphia International -- their next recordings were for ABC, for whom they hit the R&B Top Ten in 1977 with the title track of Reaching for the World. It would prove to be their last major success, however; after one more album for ABC, they moved to MCA subsidiary Source in 1979 for two LPs that failed to reignite their commercial momentum. Cummings and Wilson had both departed in 1977, replaced by Dwight Johnson and William Spratelly, and Paige and Ebo both left in 1980. Still, Melvin soldiered on, helming one last album of new material for Philly World in 1984's hopefully titled Talk It Up (Tell Everybody). It was mildly popular in the U.K., but not enough to re-establish them. Melvin continued to tour with versions of the Blue Notes steadily into the '90s, and Paige eventually returned to the fold as well. Sadly, Melvin suffered a stroke and never fully recovered; he passed away on March 24, 1997, in his beloved hometown of Philadelphia. ~ Steve Huey
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: The Essential Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes Featuring Teddy Pendergrass

1. Wake Up Everybody

2. Don't Leave Me This Way

3. The Love I Lost

4. You Know How To Make Me Feel So Good (feat. Sharon Paige)

5. If You Don't Know Me By Now

6. Bad Luck

7. Where Are All My Friends

8. I'm Weak For You

9. Hope That We Can Be Together Soon (Feat. Sharon Paige)

10. I Miss You

11. Ebony Woman

12. Yesterday I Had The Blues

13. Satisfaction Guaranteed (Or Take Your Love Back)

14. Tell The World How I Feel About 'Cha Baby

15. Keep On Lovin' You

x

Track List: The Best Of Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes

1. Cabaret

2. The Love I Lost

3. If You Don't Know Me By Now

4. Don't Leave Me This Way

5. I'm Weak For You

6. Everybody's Talkin'

7. Hope That We Can Be Together Soon (Feat. Sharon Paige)

8. Bad Luck

9. Where Are All My Friends

10. Wake Up Everybody

11. Yesterday I Had The Blues

12. Satisfaction Guaranteed (Or Take Your Love Back)

13. I Miss You

14. Tell The World How I Feel About 'Cha Baby

15. Keep On Lovin' You

x

Track List: Collectors Item - All Their Greatest Hits

1. The Love I Lost

2. Bad Luck

3. If You Don't Know Me By Now

4. Be For Real

5. Wake Up Everybody

6. Hope That We Can Be Together Soon (Feat. Sharon Paige)

7. Where Are All My Friends

8. I Miss You

x

Track List: Wake Up Everybody

1. Wake Up Everybody

2. Keep On Lovin' You

3. You Know How To Make Me Feel So Good

4. Don't Leave Me This Way

5. Tell The World How I Feel About 'Cha Baby

6. To Be Free To Be Who We Are

7. I'm Searching For A Love

Comments

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I really miss you ricky love you baby so much
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Stemnh32 Teddy was my Heart Teddy Blue jeans came out o had 3pair and in the The Fan Club. Teddy P the Sexy Man saw him in concert OMGod. It was own that Night#!!!Woe . Missing his Voice . RIP Teddy P
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Now this is some very True Philly soul music for You, Great song a timeless Classic! One of the soundtracks time to my while growing up!
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aestrada223
Mary Lou was the love I lost and the love that was truly a sweet love. It's true, like the song says. I'll never love again and that's been 40 years now.
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R I P Teddy .���������� 4 every my man .sex�������� . Wett wett and me.love you.
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You know how to make me feel so good .... Oh yea
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Blues & Groove...
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Love the feel of good ole feel Blues and sum
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Y'all listen sometimes to Bobby Womack sing Harry Hippie it's great and Bobby got it going on for sure in the 60s a good friend of mine Clifford Curry made She Shot a Hole in my Soul pull it up sometime it's great and he's still recording at over 70 years of age
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This was when real music was made by the best artist around in 50s and 60s Marvin Jerry B Teddy and of course H Melvin will love on in their music long after they are gone they are truly wonderful
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moleculematt
Love the song Bad Luck.
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$��������
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Probably my favorite Harold Melvin song. Teddy really pours his heart out in this song. He really makes you feel that this was real to him. One of Teddy's best efforts. And that's saying a lot due to his enormous success with other songs. RIP Theodore
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I Miss You, listen to this song 3 times and you will know want it means to really miss someone.
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I Miss You, listen to this song 3 times and you will understand what it really means to miss some.
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Hope that we can be together soon ..
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Don't read this. You will be kissed on the nearest Friday by the love of ur life. Tomorrow will be the best day of ur life. Now that u have started reading, don't stop. But if u read this and ignore it you will have very bad luck. Put this on 15 songs in 143 mins. When ur done press the space bar on ur screen and ur crushes name will appear in big bold letters. This is so freaky it actually works
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Soul
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I love this song by Harold Melvin and the blue notes !!!
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For a guy. If you didn't get yours. You missed. Out!!!!!!!
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I love Harold melvin and the blue notes music
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Love the old style music.������
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Sexy classic ole school music
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Sweeeet!!!!!
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Brings back a lot of good memories growing up in Atlanta....o l d school is the only school !!
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Nothing like old school
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Yesssss I love this song ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
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Ayyyyyyyyy
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Love old school music
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Aaaahhhhhhhh ! ! ! ! ! !
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HOPE THAT WE CAN BE TOGETHER SOON!
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omg
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Good �� market music sister������
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My eldest brother Larry showed me, his little sister what good music is. You are fondley remember, just like good music. Love You Larry
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Imagine Harold on The Voice - Hah no contest
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harold melville - great voice - i miss him - i hope they put him in the hall of fame soon
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Real music back in the day
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Good OdDays Know Violents
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TAKES ME BACK WHEN I WENT TO COLUMBUS OHIO TO VISIT MY FAMILY.
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I MISS YOU MORE
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Real music!
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Great
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Jeffrey, love that Teddy music.
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Oh,how I Miss you. "" (**).
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This is Music...
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Mel sapp
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Beans & rice..and meat on payday
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This song is still relevant. Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes...much love
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