Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes (feat. Teddy Pendergrass) - "Wake Up Everybody"
Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes were an American R&B/Soul vocal group, one of the most popular Philadelphia soul groups of the 1970s. The group's repertoire included soul, R&B, doo-wop, and disco. Founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the middle of the 1950s as The Charlemagnes, the group is most noted for several hits on Gamble and Huff's Philadelphia International label between 1972 and 1976, although they performed and recorded until Melvin's death in 1997.
However, the remaining members of the Blue Notes have reunited twice for two Soul Train Cruises, one in 2013 and another one in 2015, during the fourth sailing. Despite group founder and original lead singer Harold Melvin's top billing, the Blue Notes' most famous member was Teddy Pendergrass, their lead singer during the successful years at Philadelphia International. In 2013 and 2017, The group reunited when The Centric Network presented the Soul Train Cruise, and The Blue Notes reunited for both events, although they only performed during the fifth sailing in the 2017 event.
This line-up of the group, featuring Melvin, Pendergrass, Bernard Wilson, Lawrence Brown, and Lloyd Parks, was signed to Gamble & Huff's Philadelphia International label in 1972, scoring several major R&B and pop hits including million-selling singles and albums over the next four years. Among the Blue Notes' most important and successful recordings are love songs such as 1972's "If You Don't Know Me by Now" (#1 Billboard R&B, #3 pop), their breakout single, "I Miss You" (#7 R&B, #58 pop), "The Love I Lost" (#1 R&B, #7 pop, 1973) and socially conscious songs such as "Wake Up Everybody" (#1 R&B, #12 pop) and "Bad Luck" (#4 R&B, #15 pop), both in 1975. "If You Don't Know Me By Now" sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc by the RIAA on November 21, 1972. "Bad Luck" holds the record for the longest-running number-one hit on the Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart: 11 weeks. A fourth #1 R&B hit for the group was 1975's "Hope That We Can Be Together Soon" which featured female vocalist Sharon Paige.
A 1976 remake of "Don't Leave Me This Way" by Motown artist Thelma Houston was a number-one hit on the US pop chart; her version is one of the defining recordings of the disco era. The Blue Notes' version on the album, "Wake Up Everybody" was not released as a single in the USA at the time, but proved to be the group's biggest hit in the UK (#5) when released there as a single in 1977. The track was finally issued as a single in the US on 12-inch in 1979, coupled with "Bad Luck". The group recorded four albums with Gamble & Huff, all of them going gold (over 500,000 copies), according to RIAA, including To Be True (#26, Billboard Top 40 albums) and Wake Up Everybody (#9), both in 1975. Wake Up Everybody and a greatest hits compilation released in 1976, Collector's Item, has now sold over a million copies.
Despite the success, the Blue Notes' lineup continued to change regularly. In 1972, Melvin brought in Jerry Cummings to replace Lloyd Parks and Sharon Paige was added to the line-up at that time, providing solo performances on several recordings. While at the top of their success in 1976, Pendergrass quit after an argument over the money he earned. A year earlier, he had gained billing recognition by having the act renamed to "Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes featuring Theodore Pendergrass", starting from the Wake Up Everybody album. Pendergrass went on to a successful solo career, with four consecutive million-selling albums with Philadelphia International between 1977 and 1980. His career was almost ended by a paralyzing 1982 car accident. He made a triumphant comeback in 1984, signing with Asylum/Elektra Records, and recording the hit LP Love Language and then the platinum-selling Joy LP, released in 1988, which featured the Grammy-nominated title song, an R&B number 1; his comeback was cemented by an appearance at the Live Aid concert in 1985.
Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes hits have been re-recorded by other artists, including David Ruffin, Simply Red, Jimmy Somerville, Sybil, and John Legend, while dance music DJ Danny Rampling cites "Wake Up Everybody" as his favorite song of all time. Today, Gil Saunders continues to perform as a solo artist, and still performs all the hits of the past as well as his own material. Several members of various incarnations of the Blue Notes continue to tour as "Harold Melvin's Blue Notes". Melvin's widow, Ovelia currently manages Harold Melvin's Blue Notes, featuring lead singer Donnell "Big Daddy" Gillespie, Anthony Brooks, Rufus Thorne and John Morris. For his album This Note's for You, singer Neil Young named his back-up band, The Blue Notes, without permission from name rights holder Harold Melvin. Melvin took legal action against Young over use of the Blue Notes name, forcing the singer to change the name of the back-up band to "Ten Men Workin'" during the balance of the tour that promoted the This Note's for You album.
The band is mentioned on Snoop Dogg's 1993 album Doggystyle. In the intro for "Doggy Dogg World" Snoop says "Bitch, you without me is like Harold Melvin without the Blue Notes, you'll never go platinum!" Former member, Jerry Cummings, is an ordained minister and has been asked to form Jerry Cummings' Blue Notes but has turned down the offer. As of May 2014 Jerry Cummings became the Music Life Coach and producer of the X Factor superstar Lillie McCloud and Lillie has recorded one of Cummings' songs "The Other Part of Me". Rapper Big Boi uses a sample of "I Miss You" on his song "Shine Blockas" feat. Gucci Mane. "I Miss You" was also sampled by Kanye West on Jay-Z's song "This Can't Be Life", featuring Beanie Sigel and Scarface. Also the R&B singer Pleasure P used a sample of "I Miss You" on his song "Letter To My Ex" recorded in 2013.
Some days you just need a little soul to get you back in the groove.
So today I chose Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes’ (feat. Teddy Pendergrass) "Wake Up Everybody" as my, go on, get moving, things won’t change unless you make change, song for a, wild can be wonderful, accept the little gems that are left at your door, open your heart to the possibility of maybe, Tuesday.