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  McFadden and Whitehead
 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Gene McFadden and John Whitehead were essential components of the Philly sound, responsible for some of the label's biggest hits. They were the most important team on PIR not named Gamble & Huff.

The Philly natives had known each other since the 60s, when they were part of the local band Epsilons. They also recorded a forgotten album as Talk of the Town.

Their big break came when they approached Leon Huff at Philadelphia International with a freshly-minted tune entitled "Back Stabbers." Not only did the song make stars out of the previously-struggling O'Jays, it became the much-needed breakout hit Philly International needed to justify its existence to distributor CBS.

With their importance to the company firmly established, the duo assumed more responsibilities, adding production, background vocals, and arranging to their writing duties.

McFadden and Whitehead were particularly successful with Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, for whom they wrote "Bad Luck" and the anthemic "Wake Up Everybody." They also worked with Archie Bell, Jean Carne, Teddy Pendergrass, and MFSB.

According to John Jackson's book Philadelphia Soul, McFadden & Whitehead fell victim to industry rule 4080. While they were creating millions of dollars for Gamble and Huff, they were still taking out loans, not realizing they could collect royalties. In short, hell was soon raised, and in 1979 they were in the studio recording their magnum opus, "Ain't No Stopping Us Now."

A more masculine take on the sentiment of "We Are Family," "Ain't No Stopping" was open to multiple interpretations, and therefore enjoyed massive crossover sales. It was the centerpiece of their album, also issued in 1979. Unfortunately, it was also their last major hit. Their career was dormant by the mid 1980s.

Sadly, both men are no longer with us. Whitehead was shot to death May 11, 2004; McFadden died of cancer January 27, 2006.

McFadden and Whitehead's Deepest Grooves

McFadden and Whitehead (Philadelphia International, 1979)

I Heard It In A Love Song (Philadelphia International, 1980)

Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now: Best of PIR Years (Diablo, 2004) 
UK-only release that includes three versions of the title anthem.  Unfortunately, two of them are the novelty versions by the Philadelphia Eagles and true old school DJ Jocko Henderson. Interesting historically, unessential musically.  

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