Gottlieb remembers Pendergrass

    Legendary soul singer Teddy Pendergrass died last night. He was 59 years old. The Philadelphia native — known for sexy R&B hits like “Close The Door” and “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” — had cancer.

    Legendary soul singer Teddy Pendergrass died last night. He was 59 years old. The Philadelphia native — known for sexy R&B hits like “Close The Door” and “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” — had cancer.

    Listen:
    [audio:100114PCTEDDY.mp3]

    Teddy Pendergrass was the ultimate ladies man – he was handsome, regal, and he had a voice as smooth as warmed butter.
    At 32 years old – with his music already an indelible part of the of R&B canon – disaster struck. He was paralyzed in a car accident on Wissahickon Drive. He began to see psychologist Dr. Dan Gottlieb for therapy. Gottlieb – who hosts WHYY’s Voices in the Family and is a quadriplegic – said he learned as much from Pendergrass about coping with disability as Pendergrass learned from him.

    Gottlieb: He still had a beautiful voice, but because muscles around the diaphragm were paralyzed, he couldn’t sing those big notes. Singing was so extraordinarily taxing for him that he couldn’t sing like he did. But he sure could create like he did, and he sure had that passion for music, perfection and production.

    Although wheelchair-bound, Pendergrass continued to make music. As recently as 2007 he performed at a tribute to himself at the Academy of Music.

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