The Blue Notes were an American rhythm and blues music group, best known for their 1964 hit single “Wake Up Everybody”. The band’s members included Harold Melvin (lead vocals/piano), Earl Van Dyke (tenor saxophone), Teddy Pendergrass (baritone saxophone), Richard Street (bass guitar), and Joe Hunter (drums).
The Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes Biography, Songs, & Albums is a biography on the life of Harold Melvin. He was an American R&B singer-songwriter and record producer.
Harold Melvin was a major influence behind Philadelphia soul, bringing his band the Blue Notes to the top of the charts while on Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff’s Philadelphia International label. Despite Melvin’s front-row billing, the Blue Notes’ main point was lead vocalist and former drummer Teddy Pendergrass, whose booming baritone adorned the Blue Notes’ records from 1972 to 1975 and gave them a genuinely unique sound. Gamble & Huff’s lushly orchestrated productions included everything from sweeping, lengthy proto-disco dance songs to smooth, smoldering ballads. Melvin & the Blue Notes’ commercial fortunes mainly returned to pre-Pendergrass days (of which there were many), but they did continue to record for a while after Pendergrass departed for a solo career. They never really dissolved, and Melvin had been leading the Blue Notes for almost four decades when he died in 1997.
Melvin was born in Philadelphia on June 25, 1939. He started singing doo wop with a group called the Charlemagnes as a youngster, and in 1954, he put together the first edition of the Blue Notes. Melvin was the lead vocalist (for a period), composer, arranger, and choreographer in the original lineup; paradoxically, he would largely abandon those responsibilities by the time the group reached its greatest popularity. Co-leader Bernard Williams, Roosevelt Brodie, Jesse Gillis, Jr., and Franklin Peaker were the other members. In 1956, the Blue Notes recorded their debut song for Josie, “If You Love Me,” which became a regional success. Over the following several years, they recorded for a variety of labels, including Dot, until achieving their first R&B chart success with “My Hero” in 1960. (released on Val-Ue). Despite consistent recording activity, the group was always in change, and Bernard Williams broke out to form the Original Blue Notes in the mid-’60s. Melvin reformed the Blue Notes around lead vocalist John Atkins, who brought the group back to the R&B charts with the Landa song “Get Out (And Let Me Cry)” in 1965. Throughout the remainder of the 1960s, additional Arctic, Checker, and Uni albums were released, as well as further personnel changes. The Cadillacs, whose teenage drummer Teddy Pendergrass would prove to be Melvin’s greatest discovery, traveled with the group often in the late 1960s.
Pendergrass began his career as a member of the Blue Notes’ supporting band, but following John Atkins’ departure in 1970, Melvin quickly promoted him to lead singer. Pendergrass’ vocal was similar to that of Dells singer Marvin Junior, whom Gamble & Huff had courted extensively. This move helped them win a contract with Gamble and Huff’s Philadelphia International label in 1972, just as the business was establishing its position as soul music’s new hub. Melvin, Pendergrass, bass singer Lawrence Brown, baritone vocalist Bernard Wilson, and tenor vocalist Lloyd Parks made up the Blue Notes at this point. Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes would become one of the most successful R&B groups in the following several years, thanks to Gamble & Huff’s high-quality content and production. The majority of the tracks on their self-titled debut were created in anticipation of landing Marvin Junior. The band’s first song, “I Miss You,” was an R&B success, but their second, “If You Don’t Know Me by Now,” was a blockbuster, featuring Pendergrass’s agonized, star-making vocal performance. “If You Don’t Know Me by Now” reached number one in R&B and became their lone Top Five mainstream success; it was subsequently recorded by Simply Red for a number one smash in 1989.
In 1973, the Blue Notes struck again with “The Love I Lost,” a string-laden dance tune widely regarded as one of the earliest disco songs; it was their second R&B chart-topper and Top Ten mainstream hit. The follow-up single “Satisfaction Guaranteed (Or Take Your Love Back)” from the accompanying album, Black & Blue, reached the R&B Top Ten. Jerry Cummings, who made his debut on the R&B chart-topping LP To Be True, took over for Lloyd Parks in 1974. The group’s run of Top Ten R&B successes continued with “Where Are All My Friends” and “Bad Luck,” and a new member to the group, female singer Sharon Paige, helped them return to the top of the R&B charts in 1975 with the duet “Hope That We Can Be Together Soon.” Wake Up Everybody, whose title tune was another R&B number one, “Tell the World How I Feel About ‘Cha Baby,” which also reached the R&B Top Ten, and the album cut “Don’t Leave Me This Way,” which was subsequently remade for a disco hit by Thelma Houston, followed later that year.
Within the group, though, animosity was rising. Melvin, who was still the group’s main organizational force, turned down Pendergrass’ request for separate billing because he felt overshadowed. Pendergrass departed the Blue Notes in 1976 to pursue a solo career, which rapidly established him as one of R&B’s top sex icons. On lead vocals, Sharon Paige and new male lead David Ebo, whose sound was close to Pendergrass’, assisted in filling his shoes. However, Pendergrass’ departure marked the end of the Blue Notes’ association with Philadelphia International; their following recordings were for ABC, and the title tune from Reaching for the World reached the R&B Top Ten in 1977. However, it would be their final big hit; following one more album with ABC, they signed with MCA subsidiary Source in 1979 for two albums that failed to rekindle their financial success. In 1977, Cummings and Wilson left, and were replaced by Dwight Johnson and William Spratelly, respectively, while Paige and Ebo left in 1980. Melvin persisted, directing one last album of fresh material for Philly World in 1984, titled Talk It Up (Tell Everybody). In the United Kingdom, it was somewhat popular, but not enough to re-establish them. Melvin continued to tour with various Blue Notes lineups far into the 1990s, and Paige ultimately rejoined the group. Melvin died on March 24, 1997, in his beloved city of Philadelphia, after suffering a stroke from which he never completely recovered.
The harold melvin cause of death is the death of Harold Melvin. He was a founding member of the Blue Notes, and died at age 68 in 2009.
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