Rock and Roll; Interview with Teddy Pendergrass [Part 1 of 3]
Are you one of these houses here. Indolent. Q My name is Teddy Pendergrass. Yes we are. We see if I remember a magnifier when I first became a member of the Blue Notes. I was a drummer. And I joined a group first as a drummer as a progression ist in the time I was doing the. Hotel lounges and the Playboy Club House. Last phases the circuit with the car the hotel popstar. Soon doing a lot of show to a lot of stuff and it's just a little bit of whatever was popular for the day as well as a little bit of
oldies from the 50s we had a broad variety of songs that would. But basically I was just a mixture of show tunes old news and pop and songs and. Yeah. How did he change it changed drastically. Because between the time I joined and the time we met up with gal and Huff I went from becoming from being a drummer to being a lead singer all within the same. Within the same group. So you know I hear you just think you know well it's a long story it's a long story. I used to sing was on the drums because a lot of the time he
would be a little late coming to shows. So the band would hear it and we would start to share. So I would take over leap of hearts and I would sing some lead parts. As a result of doing it that's when discovered that I truly had a gift singing which I had done previously to playing drums I was a singer anyway. Drums was my second love next to singing so there was a time where I had decided and happened in French West Indies. I remember clear I thought that I was tired of playing drums. I want to go back to singing. So how convince me to stay with the group and becoming a lead singer. Who knows. So I figured well that's I'm going to start as any writer to go back home and create a whole new group and start all over again. So I just moved from the drums moved up from. I just changed roles which is great. It was good I got a chance to tell the guys in the band what to do. You know if we're being told them so it was great and rich and it was one of those times in my
life that for me marked as significant a direction towards a what it is I really wanted to do and I just want to be a part of music anywhere could lead to actually becoming a lead singer meant that I was doing what it was I really want to do. After that point we met her breath. I went home moved a couple years later while we were performing in a club in Camden New Jersey. And at that time. Allan House had just started their new PIII label flew off you know Nashville records so. One of the first acts that he saw that they saw I should say you were performing in a club in love with her. Right. Yeah. When I you know.
I tell you they had that time and started to become pretty well-known because they have had another label prior to filming the records. And they were doing artists like intruders which was artist who were singing in the 60s and hard to really start establishing themselves as prominent writers and producers and they decided to start their new and they will have him national records. Once I suppose I had gotten a deal with a record deal with Columbia. And I don't want to tell their story but for me and for us it was an opportunity now to to really just move out into memorable things. So once we got the word down we have were interested in signing us that again was just a dream come true for us.
Yes. It's exactly the truth and that's the key word designed tailor those adjectives describes exactly what Mr Gallagher MR. I would best. Along with being able to accurately tell a story. Being too poor me he just writes songs and wasn't just putting a poem with music. Those songs had depth and meaning. They were. And still are songs that reached not only me. Your soul but I think gave you something to think about. They were the truly masters of creating not only song and environment it was fear. Telling a story or giving something to
me it would take. I was going on in. In any given situation bringing to a piece of music. And making something that suddenly everybody was consigned about or made you aware of what was going on in the world. So they were just songwriters to me and I really had no. Expectations when I first got with them. For me it was just an opportunity to. Do what it was always do need to use the gift that I had been given. Something that I had been wanting to do all my life so I swer Taisha as well to try to get involved to do the absolute best that I could. At that time I was just a young buck there was raring to go I was you know I was just a wild horse as they say from the whatever it was that I was asked to do. I did it you know those were just
a days where we would stay in the studio till we got around it was just wonderful wonderful experience being involved with me and had such a connection with music and words. And really it really left a lasting impression on me as to what I. I should expect from a song. So for me it was school. It was not just to please where I sang songs it wasn't just a record company where we sang music again. Soul records. It was much more than that it was an opportunity to understand. When it was that you should be singing about and how to defy you. You're wrong for some new music.
To them. Right. And oh my goodness. I would just to you. Well if it was truly a it when you see a face you know you've heard the expression I'm sure everybody has heard family oriented businesses. Well this was truly a family oriented record company. We all worked together to create what it was we wanted to do to say. It wasn't a Gamble Huff didn't create me. I was who I was it was who I was then inspired them to write some of the things they wrote.
So it was it went big. Dean so much for me as what it was that we'd be together for us to create. The whole line be announced the whole atmosphere the whole the projection the whole. The whole frame the frame to who I was through music through my personality who I was who we were all were at the time and what was going on so gamble will use whomever he could to say what it was he wanted to say but when it came down to or whatever was needed to be said We say that. But in terms of personalities we all concentrated very much on the who we were as individuals. And what we should and should not assume based on what can be carried out what we could sell what we believe about from us. So when we got in studio it was all. It was all sitting around for as long as it took to sit there
and come out way in the right moves to see the right themes. Once Gallagher and Huff got to know new as an individual we became less necessary for us to sing this to your with them. But we always did we were always together while we were creating because the story was always know to out who I was as an individual. You know. I want to raise their pay. Be real. You know. Yes yes yes I see amazing that she said that because I had some friends to my home to our home my wife and I. One evening about. Sometime late last year at 93 and we were talking
about that monologue and chanced so happens the radio was on and the radio station that we were listening to was kind of under the conversation really listing was just background music. It came on just totally coincidentally coincidentally some of that monologue for me was another example of how we all were just so in tune with one another and I was totally spontaneous. It was just off the cuff. As I said that's how I hear. That's what I do do that really well. I don't get started into the writer finishes or if you allowed me to start before you start and I will start in either way. And we've we had we built that kind of report. Away from music and in our music we just were just so in
to it and to one another. He just started the track. And we knew what the substance was about with the story was all about. So I just started to talk and it was a live session which is unheard of these days in the 90s actually a live session hasn't been since probably some time except for my last album was doing very happy lives. I had to because there's nothing like it. We just started the music musicians started to play and I started to talk. And as the more I talked the more the story on my own got to the very end of the monologue just intuitively the musicians just dun dun dun dun dun dun. And I said Be for real. It just didn't happen is one of those magical moments that you can never take back or Naba can you ever duplicate.
You can never do it again because it was just that moment in time. It was that environment was an atmosphere it was what was going on in the studio at that time. Ted and I. Yeah really. Or you could expound on that. It's actually nice. Yeah yeah. Musicianship is what is the foundation of anything. When I was student it was to musicians and weren't in tune to one another and didn't understand the producer who's then didn't understand who they were. Recording for the new didn't work. It's great so it was very very simply the musicians had to be the kind of musicians that no one were extremely gifted. But more than he if did
he had to be compatible with one another. They have had to had played together so much and two of them know exactly how each other things like a band that's been together for 20 years. Nobody can make a move in the sea either when it was going to make it before he makes it and it's it's that kind of togetherness that was part of the gallery of sound as musicians were just the best Norman. The bakers to rattle bankers and Norman houses. We named we had a slew of them and they were to us the best. And being a musician. When I went to the studio work with these guys I would give input as to what it was I mean for me and I could talk to these guys because I'm a musician and you name it and feel I was always trying to take over their job when there was no there's no animosity at all. We got along well in the city where we were standing. Got it right.
And just when we think this is going I was just is still is I'm sure. Having worked with him her it was just one of them who's really really great charmers that could lock a groove like I don't know is good. And you mention the song my bad luck. That's typically Earl you know. I was her Oh yeah. Check. Bad luck was one of those fucking tunes that she was. It happened in the groove locked and answerer you know playing drums like. I mean I was just a fun one of the funkiest tracks I think I've ever heard in my entire life next to something maybe from Sly Stone was it's is true.
Here now Mr. Brown. James Brown. I don't know what to say is to me is it. It starts it is with James Brown. Basically he is truly one of the most influential people persons people person that has the kind of sheet who I am today. James Brown is truly responsible I think for the reason I started playing drums. I started playing when I was about 13. And my mother's restaurant where she used to work and a Thai restaurant called skill was so good I was staying out of her hair I said go mess with the instruments on stage while she was working on
Saturdays. So I started playing goes way. With my fingers no drumsticks and that just kind of evolved into you know my my learning how to play drums. I started learning from James Brown's cold sweat man when I got to learn a song I thought I was just a really strong with things that you're going to play close with and for me James is probably. The best at. That. From the tracks. I mean the best of what he has. There's there's nobody when you think oh that's what you want is funk. OK when I say from funk I mean if I'm indifferent to me and they are many of different artists who truly deserve the right to me. Holland phone continues to find masses of those who have created their own brand of funk.
James's changed his brand of song was just a rhythm that. Nobody else had. It was it was a syncopated drone with a lot of times it just said. Just separate and different from anybody else is wrong. Basically you know it is just the way you describe felt. I'm the one it makes you want to get up and dance but it certainly has. I mean the music the music is is is. As difficult as my music. And the jamming the drum patterns are are playing in such a way that. It just. Does not explain or just makes you want to get up and dance.
- Rock and Roll
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- Interview with Teddy Pendergrass [Part 1 of 3]
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- Interview with Teddy Pendergrass [Part 1 of 3]
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- singer; rock and roll; songwriting; Pendergrass, Teddy
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Interviewee2: Pendergrass, Teddy
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- APA: Rock and Roll; Interview with Teddy Pendergrass [Part 1 of 3]. Boston, MA: WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-15-rn3028pq9s