R&B Great Teddy Pendergrass Dead at 59
Colon cancer kills wheelchair-bound singer
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 14, 2010 5:28 AM CST
Valerie Simpson, Teddy Pendergrass and Nicholas Ashford perform at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia Pa. during the Live Aid famine relief concert, July 13, 1985.   (AMY SANCETTA)
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(Newser) – R&B singer Teddy Pendergrass, who had been one of the most electric and successful figures in music until a car crash 28 years ago left him in a wheelchair, has died of colon cancer. He was 59. Before the crash, Pendergrass established a new era of R&B with an explosive, raw voice that symbolized masculinity, passion, and the joys and sorrow of romance in songs such as "Close the Door," "It Don't Hurt Now," "Love TKO," and other hits that have since become classics.

"He had about 10 platinum albums in a row," said friend Kenny Gamble, of the production duo Gamble & Huff. "He had a tremendous career ahead of him, and the accident sort of got in the way." Pendergrass suffered a spinal injury, paralyzing him from the waist down. After that he could still sing, but without his signature power. "He never showed me that he was angry at all about his accident," Gamble said. "He was very courageous."