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Harold Melvin was born June 25, 1939, in Philadelphia. A self-taught pianist, he began singing doo wop as a teenager with a group called the Charlemagnes, and put together the very first edition of the Blue Notes in 1954. The original lineup was a quintet featuring Melvin as the lead singer (for a time), songwriter, arranger, and choreographer; ironically, he would mostly relinquish those duties by the time the group achieved its greatest success. The Blue Notes cut their first single, “If You Love Me,” for Josie in 1956, and scored R&B chart hits in 1960 with “My Hero” and again in 1965 with “Get Out (And Let Me Cry).” Numerous personnel shifts kept the group in flux despite steady recording activity, andMelvin kept assembling new versions of the Blue Notes. During the late ’60s, the group toured often with the Cadillacs, whose young drummer Teddy Pendergrass would prove to be Melvin‘s greatest discovery.

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Teddy eventually become lead vocalist of the group and subsequently left for his own solo career. Melvin continued to tour with versions of the Blue Notes steadily into the ’90s. Sadly, he suffered a stroke and never fully recovered; he passed away on March 24, 1997, in his beloved hometown of Philadelphia.

Teddy and Harold sound surprisingly alike as they shared lead vocals in “Hope That We Can Be Together Soon” as you’ll see in this clip from Soul Train with Richard Pryor as guest host.

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