Leading a soul revolution and delivering a distinct sound for their home town of Philadelphia, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes are one of the most seasoned bands in the R&B genre. Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes are well known for their distinct sound and longevity made possible by Harold Melvin’s passion and commitment.
The story of Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes begins primarily with Harold, originally a singer that banded together a group called The Charlemagnes. The Charlemagnes produced their first set of the ‘Blue Notes’ in 1954. At the time Harold’s band members included Bernard Williams, Roosevelt Brodie, Jesse Gillis, Jr., and Franklin Peaker. The mid-60’s brought a change in the group with Bernard Williams going a different direction and talented, versatile singer, John Atkins joining the Blue Notes resulting in the single, “Get Out (And Let Me Cry”).
Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes continued to evolve as a band, discovering their unique sound and occasionally changing hands. John Atkins left the group in 1970’s paving the way for a new great talent to join.
That great talent was found in Teddy Pendergrass, which is now one of the most well known names in R&B. Teddy’s vocal abilities and enigmatic stage presence made him a very successful front man for the group. The Blue Notes were quickly recognized by label, Gamble & Huff (Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff). Several successful singles followed that elevated the Blue Notes as one of the most popular R&B bands of all time. These included, “I Miss You,” and the wildly popular song “If You Don’t Know Me by Now,” which made it to the top of the pop charts.
The 70’s proved fortunate for the group as they continued to produce hits blurring the line between R&B, pop and disco. Their dance track “The Love I Lost” , single “Satisfaction Guaranteed (Or Take Your Love Back)” , song “Bad Luck” and album Black & Blue proved fortuitous. The band continued to evolve, replacing Lloyd Parks with Jerry Cummings in 1974 and adding on vocalist Sharon Paige resulting in the duet “Hope that we can be together soon,” and album Wake Up Everybody.
In 1976 Teddy Pendergrass left the Blue Notes in pursuit of a solo career. Pendergrass’ solo career further elevated him as a big name in the R&B genre. The Blue Notes continued to produce hits with Sharon Paige on vocals and David Ebo, whose voice was reminiscent of Pendergrass. The group’s last hit was in 1977 titled “Reaching for the World.” The band evolved drastically losing Cummings and Wilson, adding on Dwight Johnson and William Spratelly and losing Paige and Ebo.
Harold Melvin’s soldiering of the Blue Notes and subsequent dedication to the band for years after their popularity is truly admirable. The last album that Harold produced was in 1984 titled Talk it Up (Tell Everybody). Melvin and the Blue Notes toured into the 90’s and Melvin passed away in 1997 of a stroke. All in all, Melvin led the Blue Notes for over four decades and realized great success with the group.