Press release from Randy Alexander of Randex Communications
SOUND OF PHILADELPHIA ARCHITECTS KENNY GAMBLE & LEON HUFF REUNITE WITH CAMEO-PARKWAY LEGENDS DEE DEE SHARP & BOBBY RYDELL TO SHARE PAIR OF LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT HONORS
Huff and Rydell presented with Lifetime Music Achievement Awards at Philadelphia RowHome Magazine’s Blue Sapphire Award Ceremony
L-R: Leon Huff, Dee Dee Sharp, Bobby Rydell and Kenny Gamble reunite to share honors at the RowHome Magazine Blue Sapphire Awards. Credit: Randex Communications.
In a historic reunion that traced the roots of the Sounds of Philadelphia and 60 years of world-renown Philly Soul, Philadelphia International Records co-founders and R&B pioneers Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff arrived November 1st to reunite with a pair of Philly’s Cameo-Parkway Records “Bandstand” legends, Bobby Rydell (“Wild One,” “Volare”) and Dee Dee Sharp (“Mashed Potato Time”), as Huff and Rydell each received Lifetime Music Achievement honors at the annual Philadelphia RowHome Magazine Blue Sapphire Awards.
Kenny Gamble presented the award to Leon Huff, partners for over 50 years, and recounted joyfully how blessed they were to have fatefully met on an elevator in the old Shubert Building offices, so successfully and prolifically blending Gamble’s lyrics to Huff’s melodies to create over 3,000 songs, including R&B #1 hits, pop #1 hits, gold and platinum records, multiple Grammy and BMI songwriters’ awards, and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
“Huff is one of the best keyboard players I’ve ever known and worked with,” said Gamble. “I’m proud to still call him my production and writing partner for the past five decades.”
Leon Huff, in accepting the award from Gamble, gave thanks for the tremendous catapult that meeting Gamble gave to his career, the pivotal moment in a musical journey which began as a youth playing his mother’s upright piano in the family’s Camden, NJ living room.
“Meeting Kenny Gamble in Philadelphia,” said Huff, “was the best thing that happened in my life.”
While primarily known for all his worldwide mega-hits with Gamble, Huff also is highly accomplished solo artist, starting in 1964 with co-writing “Mixed-Up, Shook-Up Girl” for Patty & the Emblems, and in 1980, the popular dance track, “I Ain’t Jivin’, I’m Jammin’,” from his solo album, Here to Create Music.
Dee Dee Sharp, in presenting the award to Rydell, commented on how much she feels he’s one of the all-time “greatest guys” and reminded the more than 400 attendees at the black-tie affair how honored she was to have sung background vocals on all of Rydell’s Cameo-Parkway hits while still a teenager. Sharp became the nation’s first black female teen idol at Cameo-Parkway, where Rydell was groomed as a massively popular early teen idol as well.
Gamble has long credited the writers at Cameo-Parkway, where Rydell and Sharp became stars, for inspiring him and Leon Huff in the earliest days of their legendary partnership as songwriters, producers and record company executives. The roots of Gamble & Huff date back to the early 1960s, when they backed Sharp and Chubby Checker on tours as members of Kenny Gamble and the Romeos. The Cameo-Parkway office building eventually became the Philadelphia International Records hit factory following its purchase by Gamble & Huff in 1971.