Legendary R&B singer Teddy Pendergrass died Wednesday at the age of 59 in a Philadelphia-area hospital, his son told the AP. Pendergrass—who was paralyzed from the waist down in a 1982 car accident—had a “difficult recovery” from colon cancer surgery eight months ago, according to Teddy Pendergrass II. ”To all his fans who loved his music, thank you,” said his son. ”He will live on through his music.” The Philadelphia native rose to fame in the early 1970s as the lead singer of Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, offering up such hits as “I Miss You” and “If You Don’t Know Me By Now,” and earned even greater success as a solo artist in the late 1970s and beyond. He was the first black male singer to release five consecutive multi-platinum albums; his hits include ”Close the Door,” “Love T.K.O.,” ”I Don’t Love You Anymore,” and “Turn off the Light.” After spending six months in the hospital following his car accident, Pendergrass went on to record many more albums, starting with 1984’s Love Language, which contained “Hold Me,” a duet with Whitney Houston. The following year, Pendergrass made his return to the stage, performing in a wheelchair at Live Aid. In 1998, he founded the Teddy Pendergrass Alliance, an organization that helps people with spinal cord injuries.
More on Teddy Pendergrass’ career and legacy:
Teddy Pendergrass: Ken Tucker remembers