Teddy Pendergrass, the soul and R&B icon behind such hits as "Love TKO" and "Joy" who continued a thriving musical career after a car accident that left him paralyzed, has died. He was 59.
Pendergrass died Wednesday from colon cancer at Bryn Mawr Hospital near Philadelphia, his son, Teddy Pendergrass II, told the Philadelphia Inquirer. Pendergrass underwent colon cancer surgery eight months ago and had a difficult recovery, his son said.
"To all his fans who loved his music, thank you," he said. "He will live on through his music."
A Philadelphia native, Pendergrass started his career as a drummer for The Cadillacs in the 1970s, but first found fame as the lead singer of Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, belting out such hits as "I Miss You" and "If You Don't Know Me By Now."
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After leaving the Blue Notes in 1976, Pendergrass embarked on a successful solo career, releasing a string of hit albums and love ballads, including "Close the Door," Love TKO" and "I Don't Love You Anymore."
In 1982, Pendergrass crashed his Rolls-Royce in Philadelphia and suffered spinal cord injury, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down. He later established the Teddy Pendergrass Alliance to help those with spinal cord injuries.
He resumed his career after completing physical therapy to record the album Love Language — which features "Hold Me," a duet with Whitney Houston — and returned to the stage at Live Aid in 1985, performing in his wheelchair.
Pendergrass, who steadily recorded through the 1980s and 1990s, released his last album, Love Songs Collection in 2004.