Theodore DeReese "Teddy" Pendergrass (March 26, 1950 – January 13, 2010) was an American R&B/soul singer and songwriter. Pendergrass first rose to fame as lead singer of Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes in the 1970s before a successful solo career at the end of the decade. In 1982, he was severely injured in an auto accident in Philadelphia, resulting in his being paralyzed from the waist down. After his injury, he founded the Teddy Pendergrass Alliance, a foundation that helps those with spinal cord injuries. Pendergrass commemorated 25 years of living after his spinal cord injury with star filled event, 'Teddy 25 - A Celebration of Life' at Philadelphia's Kimmel Center. His last performance was on a PBS special at Atlantic City's Borgata Casino in November 2008.
Pendergrass was born Theodore DeReese Pendergrass at Thomas Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was the only child of Jesse Pendergrass and Ida Geraldine Epps. When Pendergrass was still very young, his father left the family; Jesse Pendergrass was murdered when Teddy was 12. Pendergrass grew up in Philadelphia and sang often at church. He dreamed of being a pastor and got his wish when, at 10, he was ordained a minister (according to author Robert Ewell Greene). He also took up drums during this time and was a junior deacon of his church. Pendergrass attended Thomas Edison High School for Boys in North Philadelphia (now closed). He sang with the Edison Mastersingers. He dropped out in the eleventh grade to enter the music business, recording his first song "Angel With Muddy Feet." The recording, however, was not a commercial success.