Let’s talk about Teddy Pendergrass! Theodore DeReese was born to be a singer. The musical icon took his first breath of life on this day, March 26 in Kingstree, SC in 1950.
About Teddy Pendergrass
His mother who worked at a supper club knew her baby had talent. As life would have it, the curious little boy would begin to sneak into his mother’s job. He just wanted to listen to some great artists and performers like Connie Francis and Chubby Checker.
When she wasn’t at work, you could find them both in the church house on Sunday mornings as he sang shamelessly to the congregation. By the time he was 6, he was selected to be in the All-City Elementary’s boys choir.
It would be at the supper club he would discover another gift. Teddy made the drums do what they were supposed to do! By the age of 13, he had exceptional form and it didn’t stop there.
As an adult, Teddy Pendergrass had an incredible professional life. He was a tender soul who effortlessly drew crowds of screaming, ecstatic women who threw teddy bears on stage.
We got to know him, his voice and singing style through the infamous beginnings of Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes. The 70’s was successful for them with songs like “Wake Up Everybody,” but like most stars, he left the group in pursuit of a solo career.
Some of Teddy Pendergrass greatest hits we love are “If You Don’t Know Me By Now,” “Close the Door,” and “Turn Off the Lights.” He gave us an amazing performance when he sang “You’re My Latest, Greatest Inspiration” while touring in London. [Were you lucky enough to see it?]
It’s a shame if you lived there and didn’t. Sadly, it wouldn’t be long after that tour Teddy would be injured in a car accident . Teddy was at an uprising in his career when his Rolls Royce met with a tree.
However, he was not alone and there was much gossip then about Teddy Pendergrass. The media were quick to spread the news and as a result, there were many questions concerning the passenger.
They remained a mystery until 2014 when Tenika Watson, a transgender nightclub performer spoke out. The injuries of that accident left him paralyzed from the chest down and bound to a wheelchair.
It took some time before he would perform again, but eventually, he did. When the soulful singer made his debut, it ended up being a little different from what we expected. Needless to say, we were not disappointed, however.
Teddy Pendergrass performed in the gospel musical, “Your Arms Too Short To Box With God,” which was hit. Shortly after, he released “Truly Blessed” as an autobiography. And then, unsuspectingly, Teddy made his last appearance in 2008 for a segment shown on PBS.
As a part of his legacy and as a result of his misfortune, he founded the Teddy Pendergrass Alliance. Its purpose is to help patients with spinal cord injuries.
It is amazing how Teddy Pendergrass songs never cross the line but gave you everything you could imagine. His baritone voice was flirtatious, but never so explicit his music required a warning label. Sadly, Teddy Pendergrass passed away on January 13, 2010, with colon cancer.
Tenika Watson Speaks Out On Teddy Pendergrass Accident
Soooo, let’s talk about Teddy Pendergrass and Tenika Watson. In an interview with Oprah, Watson recalls when she met Teddy. It was a day that she would run from the star rather than run to speak with Teddy. 😛
She saw him walking down the street and he called Watson over to his Rolls. She says that initially, she thought Teddy was a pimp and that’s why she ran away.
They saw each other again, but this time, Tenika Watson decided to talk. When the conversation was over and it was time to go home, Teddy offered to give her a lift. It was all innocent enough, but then things got really scary.
On the ride home, the car started to speed up and then Teddy lost control over the vehicle and that’s when everything went blurry, Watson recalls.
Watson denied any sexual contact with Pendergrass despite the rumors. She remembers trying to see Teddy while he was in the hospital (Watson escaped the accident with minor injuries), but she couldn’t get in.
Tenika went through some tough times after the accident that leads to drug abuse and prostitution. Finally, in 2002, Watson got a chance to meet with Teddy Pendergrass. She wanted to put an end to the questions that had been plaguing her for over 20 years.
Regrettably, not much was really said. However, to the family, LaDonna Pendergrass, Tamon Pendergrass, Tisha Pendergrass and Teddy Pendergrass ll, we truly miss your father and the musical talents of his husky, baritone voice.
Trivia – Did you know Teddy started out as the drummer for Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes?
http://www.teddypendergrass.com/ and http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0671696/bio