Skip to main content

Obituaries: Teddy Pendergrass, Jay Reatard, Rowland Howard, Bobby Charles, Woody Cunningham, Willie Mitchell

Farewell to Teddy Pendergrass, Jay Reatard, Rowland Howard, Bobby Charles, Woody Cunningham and Willie Mitchell.

R&B singer Teddy Pendergrass, one of the most successful figures in music until a car crash 28 years ago left him in a wheelchair, died of cancer Jan 13. He was 59.

He was first heard with Harold Melvin And The Blue Notes in such hits as “If You Don’t Know Me By Now,” and later shone as a solo performer in “Close the Door,” “It Don’t Hurt Now,” “Love T.K.O.” and other hits that have become classics.

During his career, Pendergrass earned five Grammy nominations for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance and had a string of 10 consecutive platinum records.

After a car accident in 1982 left him a quadriplegic, he established the charitable Teddy Pendergrass Alliance (TPA) in 1987. In 2007, he formed a partnership with the National Spinal Cord Injury Association to help people with injuries during the early stages of recovery.

• • •

Memphis, Tenn., punk rocker Jay Reatard, known for performing shows and releasing singles at a breakneck pace, has died at the age of 29.

Memphis police said Reatard was found dead in his bed early Jan. 13. Results of an autopsy are pending.

Reatard started recording songs in his bedroom as a teenager and was playing Memphis clubs by age 15. Soon after, local independent label Goner Records began releasing his singles. He would go on to release more than 70 records, with some of the rarer ones now fetching hundreds of dollars on eBay.

In an interview with The New York Times last August, Reatard, speaking about his recording style, said, “‘I’m just trying to get the idea out before the inspiration is gone. Everything I do is motivated by the fear of running out of time.”

• • •

Australian guitarist Rowland Howard died of cancer Dec. 30. He was 50.

Howard was a member of the bands The Boys Next Door and The Birthday Party in the ’70s and ’80s.

He went on to produce two solo albums. The second, Pop Crimes, was released last year.

• • •

Louisiana songwriter Robert Charles Guidry, known professionally as Bobby Charles, died Jan. 14 at age 71.

Charles wrote “Walking To New Orleans” for Fats Domino and “See You Later Alligator” for Bill Haley & The Comets, among other hits.

He finished recording a new album, Timeless, late last year. The album is scheduled for Feb. 23 release.

• • •

Woody Cunningham, leader of the ’70s and ’80s band Kleeer, has died, according to a report at

• • •

Willie Mitchell
, a record producer and musician who worked with Al Green and many others died Jan. 5 at the age of 81.

Willie Mitchell owned Royal Studio, where Buddy Guy, John Mayer and many others recorded their music. In the 1970s, Mitchell also owned Hi Records of Memphis, the label for Green.

A trumpeter, Mitchell and his band provided the musical entertainment at several New Year’s Eve parties for Elvis Presley at Presley’s Graceland home. 


*Great Books, CDs, Price Guides & More

*Share YOUR Thoughts in the Goldmine Forums