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harold melvin & the blue notes

Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes

Formed in Philadelphia in 1954, the line up at various stages consisted of:

Harold Melvin (b. 25th June 1939, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania U.S.A., d. 24th March 1997, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania U.S.A.)

Theodore (Teddy) Pendergrass (b. Theodore DeReese 'Teddy' Pendergrass, JR.., 26th March 1950, Kingstree, South Carolina. U.S.A., d. 13th January 2010, Bryn Mawr Hospital, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.) Bernard Williams (in 1954)

Bernie Wilson (between 1972-1977. d. 26th December 2010, New Jersey, U.S.A.)

Jesse Gillis Jnr.

Gil Saunders (d. 2021)

Franklin Peaker (b. 1935, Philadelphia, U.S.A. d. 15th November 2006, Philadelphia, U.S.A.)

Lawrence Lloyd Brown Sr. (b. 5th November 1944, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A., d. 6th April 2008, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.)


Roosevelt Brodie

Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes were, originally, formed in 1954 under the name 'The Bluenotes'.

Prior to that incarnation the group were originally known as the Charlemagnes.

Harold Melvin was a self taught pianist, who originally sang Doo Wop.

The Bluenotes, at that time, were a quintet with the other band members being Bernard Williams, Roosevelt Brodie, Jesse Gillis Jr., and Franklin Peaker.

Their first single, 'If You Love Me' was recorded for the Josie imprint in 1956.

The Bluenotes recorded for several other labels at the time, including the Dot label.

In 1960 with 'My Hero', became a minor hit on the Val-Ue imprint.

The Bluenotes saw several line-ups as members came and went, with Bernard Williams leaving to lead 'the Original Blue Notes' in the mid-'60s.

Harold put together a new version of the Blue Notes featuring, lead singer, John Atkins.

The Bluenotes reached the R & B charts in 1965 with the single 'Get Out (And Let Me Cry)' for the Landa label.

The group released several further singles for the Arctic, Checker, and Uni imprints, with the line-up changing on a regular basis.

During the late '60s, the group toured regularly with the Cadillacs, whose line up featured a drummer called Teddy Pendergrass.

Teddy initially joined the Blue Notes backing band, however, impressed by his singing abilities, Teddy became promoted to singing lead vocals after John Atkins left in 1970.

By 1972, the group had signed to Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff's Philadelphia International label.

The group's line-up now consisted of Harold Melvin, Teddy Pendergrass, Lawrence Brown, Bernard Wilson, and Lloyd Parks.

The first single, 'I Miss You,' was a hit on the R & B charts, the second was a bigger hit in 1972.

'If You Don't Know Me by Now,' went straight to the number one slot on the R & B charts, number 5 on the National listings.

Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes

In 1973, they hit the charts again with the dancer 'The Love I Lost,' which became their second R & B hit and Top Ten pop single.

The parent album 'Black & Blue', produced another R & B / Top Ten hit in the form of 'Satisfaction Guaranteed (Or Take Your Love Back).'

In 1974, Lloyd Parks was replaced by Jerry Cummings.

The R & B album 'To Be True' followed along with a succession of chart hits including, 'Where Are All My Friends' and 'Bad Luck'.

They then added the female vocalist Sharon Paige to the line-up, with the group charting again in 1975 with the duet 'Hope That We Can Be Together Soon'.

The same year, the album 'Wake Up Everybody' was released.

The title track was another R & B number one, whilst 'Tell the World How I Feel About 'Cha Baby' also reached the R & B Top Ten.

The album also contained the song 'Don't Leave Me This Way', a tune later covered by the singer Thelma Houston.

Tensions began to build within the ranks with Teddy requesting seperate billing.

In 1976, Teddy Pendergrass left the Blue Notes for a solo career.

Harold recruited the singer David Ebo to the line-up, whilst still retaining the services of Sharon Paige.

After Teddy had departed, the group left the Philadelphia International fold for the ABC imprint.

They then reached the R & B Top Ten in 1977 with the title track of 'Reaching for the World'.

This was to be their last major chart entry, although they did record a further album for ABC.

Jerry Cummings and Bernard Wilson both departed in 1977, replaced by Dwight Johnson and William Spratelly, whilst Sharon Paige left in 1980.

The Blue Album

The Blue Notes relocated to the MCA subsidiary Source imprint in 1979 for two LPs, with 'The Blue album' containing the dancer 'Prayin' (popular on the U.K. dance scene).

Gil Saunders was then recruited to the line-up in 1982 as lead vocalist, whilst David Ebo departed from the band.

Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes

left to right: Rufus Thorn (Fuss), Bill Spratley, Harold Melvin, Gilbert Saunders, and Dwight Johnson (Blackie)

They signed to Philly World in 1984, achieving minor U.K. hits the same year with the singles 'Don't Give Me Up' and 'Today's Your Lucky Day', along with the parent album 'Talk It Up (Tell Everybody)', with Gil Saunders as the lead singer.

Gil Saunders left the group in 1992, and passed away in February 2021.

Harold continued to tour with several versions of the Blue Notes steadily into the '90's, with Sharon Paige returning to the fold.

Sadly, Harold suffered a stroke and never fully recovered.

Harold Melvin

Harold Melvin passed away on the 24th of March 1997 in Philadelphia.

Teddy Pendergrass sadly passed away in January 2010.

Bernard Wilson passed away on Boxing Day 2010.

You can check out what Gil Saunders is up to at this site

Real Player


Harold Melvin And The Blue Notes (Philadelphia International Records 1972)

Black And Blue (Philadelphia International Records 1973)

To Be True (Philadelphia International Records 1975)

Wake Up Everybody (Philadelphia International Records 1975)

Reaching For The World (ABC Records 1977)

Now Is The Time (ABC Records 1977)

The Blue Album (Source Records 1980)

All Things Happen In Time (MCA Records 1981)

Talk It Up (Philly World Records 1984)

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