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Gamble and Huff
Kenneth Gamble (born on August 11, 1943 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) and Leon Huff (born in 1942 in Camden, New Jersey) are an American songwriting and record production team. Both of African-American origin, Gamble and Huff have, both seperately and together, written and produced over 170 gold and platinum records and were pioneers of Philadelphia soul and the in-house creative team for the Philadelphia International record label.
Kenneth Gamble's childhood in Philadelphia shaped his adult life: he recorded himself on various arcade recording machines, assisted the morning show DJs on WDAS , operated a record store, and sang with The Romeos. In 1964, Gamble teamed up with Leon Huff for the first Gamble/Huff song, performed by Candy & The Kisses.
In 1967, the team struck gold. "Expressway To Your Heart" by the Soul Survivors became their first top 5 hit, and the die was cast. The team worked with Archie Bell & the Drells , Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, and Jerry Butler, scoring hits along the way.
Gamble and Huff formed Philadelphia International Records in 1971 as a rival to Berry Gordy and Motown. Columbia Records backed the venture and distributed Philadelphia International's records. Philadelphia International released a number of the most popular soul music hits of the 1970s, including "If You Don't Know Me by Now" by Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, "Back Stabbers" and "Love Train" by the O'Jays, and the Grammy-winning "Me and Mrs. Jones" by Billy Paul .
By 1975, Philadelphia International and the genre it helped define, Philadelphia soul, had eclipsed Motown and the Motown Sound in popularity, and Gamble and Huff were the premiere producers of soul. The Philadelphia soul sound evolved from the simpler arrangements of the late-1960s into the lush strings, thumping basslines, and sliding hi-hat rhythms that soon became distingushing elements of a new style of music called disco, and Gamble and Huff became the most prominent producers of the new genre. Nearly all of the Philadelphia International records featured the work of the label's in-house band of studio musicians, MFSB. MFSB cut a number of successful instrumental albums and singles, including their 1974 Gamble-Huff produced hit "TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia)", best known as the theme song from the American television show Soul Train.
Gamble's humantiarian work
Through the 1970s, Gamble and Huff continued to work with some of the biggest stars in the music industry, and Gamble in particular began his continuing work to clean up the inner cities and help African-American youth. He also contributed his time and energy to the T.J. Martell Leukemia Foundation and The AMC Cancer Research Center and Hospital. His charitable works and civic efforts continue today. He has served on the Board of Directors for the Philadelphia Music Foundation, which honors the artists, songwriters, and producers from Philadelphia. His United Companies have opened a restaturant, a bookstore, a mosque, low-income housing, and a school. These buildings, mostly built by labor hired locally, have served as the beginnings of a resurgence in the neighborhood. He also helped start the "Clean Up The Ghetto" project, which involved the youth of blighted communities helping with the clean-up and repair of damaged or neglected properties. PRI recorded a song using many of their popular artists in support of the project. Started in Philadelphia, "Clean Up The Ghetto" spread to Los Angeles, California. Atlanta, Georgia, and Chicago, Illinois, and similar events have been held throughout the country.
In 1975, Philadelphia International became involved in a payola scandal; Gamble was fined and Huff was not. By the late-1970s, however, the popularity of the Philadelphia soul sound began to decline. Disco had suffered a backlash, R&B was going back toward the ballad, and rock had regained the American charts. Among the later hits were "Enjoy Yourself" by The Jacksons in 1976, and "Ain't No Stopping Us Now" by McFadden and Whitehead in 1979.
In 1982, Philadelphia International's biggest star, former Blue Notes singer Teddy Pendergrass, became paralyzed from the waist down in a car accident, and the future of the label came to be in doubt. That year, Philadelphia broke its ties with Columbia and made a new deal with EMI Records. Although the hits had by now dried up, Gamble and Huff continued to write and produce for the label's artists.
1990 finally saw Gamble and Huff recognized with a Grammy Award for Best R&B Song, awarded for a cover of the Blue Notes' 1972 hit "If You Don't Know Me By Now" by Simply Red. In 1999, Gamble and Huff were honored with the Grammy Trustees Award, joining musical luminaries like Frank Sinatra, The Beatles, and Walt Disney. Their career output of over 3000 songs places them among the greatest songwriters of all time.
Today, Kenneth Gamble continues to write, often with Leon Huff, and Philadelphia International continues. He still lives in South Philadephia, and remains active in his community.
- "Expressway To Your Heart" - Soul Survivors
- "Cowboys To Girls" - The Intruders
- "I Can't Stop Dancing" - Archie Bell & the Drells
- "Only The Strong Survive" - Jerry Butler
- "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" - Dee Dee Warwick, later covered by Diana Ross & the Supremes and The Temptations
- "One Night Affair" - The O'Jays
- "(We'll Be) United" - The Intruders
- "Silly, Silly Fool" - Dusty Springfield
- "Don't Let The Green Grass Fool You" - Wilson Pickett
- "Slow Motion" - Johnny Williams
- "Me And Mrs. Jones" - Billy Paul
- "Regina" - Bunny Singler
- "The Bells" - Laura Nyro and LaBelle
- "Drowning In The Sea Of Love" - Joe Simon
- "If You Don't Know Me By Now" - Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes
- "992 Arguments" - The O'Jays
- "You're The Reason Why" - The Ebonys
- "I Miss You" - Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes
- "When The World's At Peace" - The O'Jays
- "That's How Long I'll Be Loving You" - Bunny Sigler
- "Back Stabbers" - The O'Jays
- "Love Train" - The O'Jays, later covered by Bunny Sigler
- "The Love I Lost" - Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes
- "Now That We Found Love" - The O'Jays
- "Yesterday I Had The Blues" - Harold Melvin & the Blue Notess
- "I'll Always Love My Mama" - The Intruders
- "For The Love Of Money" - The O'Jays
- "Bad Luck" - Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes
- "Don't Call Me Brother" - The O'Jays
- "Zach's Fanfare (I Hear Music)" - MFSB
- "Love Is The Message" - MFSB
- "Am I Black Enough For You" - Billy Paul
- "Sunshine" - The O'Jays
- "When Will I See You Again" - The Three Degrees
- "TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia)" - MFSB featuring The Three Degrees
- "Livin' For The Weekend" - The O'Jays
- "Wake Up Everybody" - Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes
- "Enjoy Yourself" - The Jacksons
- "I Could Dance All Night" - Archie Bell & the Drells
- "I Love Music" - The O'Jays
- "Love Epidemic" - The Trammps
- "Stairway To Heaven" - The O'Jays
- "Show You The Way To Go" - The Jacksons
- Do It Any Way You Wanna - Peoples Choice
- "My One And Only Love" - MFSB
- "Rich Get Richer" - The O'Jays
- "Hope That We Can Be Together Soon" - Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes
- "Ooh Child" - Dee Dee Sharp
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