Honored on Walk of Fame, Questlove traces musical roots firmly planted in Philly

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The Philadelphia Music Alliance has added seven more honorees to the Walk of Fame in front of the Kimmel Center on Broad Street, where embedded plaques for Billie Holiday, the Trammps, Andrea McArdle — the original “Annie” on Broadway — pioneer rock DJ Harvey Holiday, the glam band Cinderella, and Ray Benson of Asleep at the Wheel.

The Roots, another honoree, were the headliners for the afternoon ceremony. The hip-hop band was formed in 1987 by Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson and Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter when they were students at the Philadelphia High School of Creative and Performing Arts. In addition to recording and touring their own material, they are the house band for “The Tonight Show” with Jimmy Fallon.

“Even with all their success, they are still hometown heroes who come back and give back, time and time again, to the city of Philadelphia,” said Mayor Michael Nutter, who singled out The Roots, who have performed at both inaugural parties for his two terms as mayor.

The band also hosts the annual Roots Picnic festival on Penn’s Landing, has played the 4th of July Jam on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway for five years, and is the subject of a mural on South Street.

Artists, bands, producers, and DJs who have some tie to Philadelphia are included among the 128 honorees.

Billie Holiday was born in Philadelphia, but moved to Baltimore while still an infant.

Ray Benson grew up in Philadelphia, but his band Asleep at the Wheel formed in Paw Paw, West Virginia, ultimately finding success in Austin, Texas.

Andrea McArdle was raised in Philadelphia, appearing on the local children’s talent show “Al Alberts Showcase” before her big break, at age 14, as the original “Annie” on Broadway.

Harvey Holiday is a pioneering Philadelphia disc jockey now with WOGL. Cinderella is an ’80s glam band whose 1985 debut, “Night Songs,” went triple-platinum.

A previous inductee, Lee Andrews, was honored in 1992. He was the frontman of the doo-wop group Lee Andrews & the Hearts, which had hits with “Teardrops” and “Long Lonely Nights.”

Andrews is also Questlove’s father.

“I’m overwhelmed right now,” said Thompson, who never imagined he would share Broad Street with his father 23 years later. “When my father got the same award, that was the first day we did our demo.”

He was also excited to be sharing a sidewalk with Earl Young, the drummer with the 1970s disco-soul group The Trammps.

“Earl Young is the whole reason for disco. Four on the floor,” said Thompson, mouthing the classic 4/4 dance beat. “Earl Young invented the reason we do that. I’m truly overwhelmed that I’m mentioned in the same sentence as the man who literally invented disco.”

As for Earl Young, this is his fifth star on the Avenue of the Arts — he has been honored previously for his work with the Salsoul Orchestra, the Monster Orchestra, the Baker, Harris and Young trio, and the Philadelphia International Records house band, MFSB.

Now 75, he has been keeping his eye on Questlove.

“I think he’s a hell of drummer, too,” said Young. “He’s one of my idols, too. I keep up with drummers. We all watch each other. That’s the love of it.”

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