T.J. Tindall, a creator of the Philadelphia Sound, dies at 65

 T.J. Tindall, a creator of the Philadelphia Sound, has died at the age of 65. (Image courtesy of Dallyn Pavey)

T.J. Tindall, a creator of the Philadelphia Sound, has died at the age of 65. (Image courtesy of Dallyn Pavey)

One of the architects of the Philadelphia Sound died Tuesday. T.J. Tindall was a guitar player who worked on major funk and R&B records in the 1970s.

Tindall was a member of SalSoul Orchestra and MFSB, the house band for Philadelphia International Records. He backed up almost every major act that recorded in Philadelphia, including the O’Jays, Lou Rawls, and Teddy Pendergrass. He has two stars on Philadelphia’s Walk of Fame.

Tindall, 65, had been suffering from a long illness that took a sudden turn for the worse. His family removed him from life support Tuesday night.

His guitar parts are sometimes hard to distinguish in the lush mixes of ’70s R&B and disco. He was integral to the overall sound of hits like “Disco Inferno” and “T.S.O.P.” even if his guitar was not up front.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

“His choices weren’t, ‘I’m going to play what people think is cool.’ He would play what was right,” said David Uosikkinen, the drummer from The Hooters and recent collaborator with Tindall. “Sometimes that would mean a subtle guitar part. A lot of guitar players are looking for flash. He would come up with the part that was, like, ‘Whoa! How’d he come up with that?'”

Born in Trenton, Tindall’s early work was with the gritty funk band Duke Williams and the Extremes, whose song “Chinese Chicken” is often sampled by hip-hop DJs. He also played psychedelic rock with the Edison Electric Band.

In the 1980s, Tindall had basically retired from music, running a lighting company in Princeton founded by his father. In 2012, he was called back into the studio by Uosikkinen to record for an ongoing cover songs project called In the Pocket.

That year Tindall also formed an all-star band to perform a memorial concert for another longtme Philadelphia guitarist Danny DeGennaro. The band stayed together as East Coast and played many times throughout the region. Tindall was scheduled to be in the studio next week to record a new version of the O’Jays “Back Stabbers” with Uosikkinen.

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal