(Born & raised in Camden, NJ)
The legacy continues with Leon Huff, co-founder of Philadelphia International Records. Huff was first exposed to music through his mother, who played the piano and the organ for the 19th Street Baptist Church choir. Huff began playing the piano at the age of five; he received basic lessons from his mother as well as formal teaching through the school system and private lessons. As a teenager, Huff participated in several “doo-wop” music groups throughout Camden. By the early 1960’s, Huff had already worked in NYC recording sessions and had composed the 1964 Top 20 Pop hit, “Mixed Up Shook Up Girl” for Patti & the Emblems. Returning to Philadelphia, Gamble and Huff formed the labels Excel, Gamble, Huff-Puff and Neptune before launching Philadelphia International Records in 1971 as a joint partnership with Columbia Records. The label produced #1 R&B hits such as The O’ Jays’ “Love Train,” Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes’ “If You Don’t Know Me By Now,” Lou Rawls’ “You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine,” and “TSOP,” which became the theme to the TV show Soul Train. Their signature sound incorporated sophisticated touches like strings, horn sections, and an always-insistent groove. A precursor to disco, when the clubs started playing an important role in the music business, Philadelphia International helped shape the direction with hits like 1974’s “TSOP,” which became the theme to the TV show Soul Train.