Urban music’s history book undoubtedly contains a chapter on R&B musician/industry executive Leon Huff. A true veteran of the game, Huff, who hails from Camden, New Jersey, has crafted a stellar career, with his name being synonymous with the Philadelphia sound.
Mr. Huff, half of the legendary duo of Gamble and Huff, began playing the piano at the age of 5 and was the accompanist for the 10th Street Baptist Church of Camden’s Junior Choir. Later, he could frequently be found performing on street corners with various doo wopp singers. Early on, he enjoyed some success with a group known as The Dynaflows, who after becoming The Lavenders, hit regionally with their recording of “The Slide.”.. Read more
Huff then traveled regularly to between Philadelphia and New York City, becoming a well-known figure on the recording studio scene in Manhattan, and becoming acquainted with a host of major league songwriter/producers, such as Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller and Phil Spector. Taking his cure from these acknowledged stars of their craft, most of whom hold honored places in the Songwriter Hall of Fame), Huff began concentrating on his songwriting skills. His first recording as a writer was the #1 hit, “The Boy From New York City” by the Ad Libs. Later, he wrote the hit song, “Mixed Up, Shook Up Girl,” recorded by Patty and the Emblems.
At about the same time, already recognized in New York for his writing and playing, Huff switched regions, and became active again in Philadelphia as well, as session man, songwriter and neophyte producer. Already tasting significant success, Huff found himself in the same building as Kenny Gamble. In 1965, a series of chance meetings in the elevator resulted in a decision to try working together, and the two soon formed a production company, which later resulted in hits such as “Expressway To Your Heart” and “Cowboys To Girls” and later brought the pair into the orbits of such prominent hitmakers as Wilson Pickett, Dusty Springfield, Jerry Butler, Nancy Wilson, Joe Simon and Archie Bell and the Drells.
In 1971, the team of Gamble and Huff formed the now-legendary Philadelphia International Records, a company that would have tremendous impact on the course of pop music around the world, in the years to come. Signed to a distribution deal by CBS Records, the company turned out hit after hit, writing and producing such entries as “Back Stabbers” by The O’Jays, “Me And Mrs. Jones” by Billy Paul, “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” and “The Love I Lost” both by Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes, and “Love Train” and “For The Love of Money” by The O’Jays.
Huff is the proud recipient of more than 300 Gold and Platinum records, has been nominated for a number of Grammy Awards and has received numerous Philadelphia and Camden area civic awards.
Leon Huff’s latest project is a CD called “GROOVY PEOPLE.” Having toiled in the lab with this newest creation for over 15 years, Huff is now ready to share it with the world. The album consists of remakes and some R&B favorites, such as “Hey There Lonely Girl,” originally sung by Eddie Holman, and “The Way You Do The Things You Do” by The Temptations. Also featured on the CD is Mr. Huff’s latest discovery, award-winning R&B vocal group Ju-Taun, as well as new ballads that are sure to become new favorites.
Leon Huff is continuing his legacy!
Biography courtesy of Double XXposure Media Relations.
01 – Intro – The O’Jays – For The Love Of Money (Ship Ahoy, 1973)
02 – The Ronettes feat. Veronica – Baby I Love You (Presenting The Fabulous Ronette’s, 1963)
03 – Snippet – The Lavenders – The Slide (Late 50′s?)
04 – Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes – The Love I Lost (Black & Blue, 1973)
05 – The O’Jays – Ship Ahoy (Ship Ahoy, 1973)
06 – Leon Huff feat. Ju-Taun – Hey There Lonely Girl (Groovy People, 2011)
Background music during the interview:
The Abyssinian Baptist Choir – He Is Such An Understanding God, Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes – I Miss You Pt.1, Philadelphians – The Love I Lost, Ad Libs – The Boy From New York City, MFSB – Dance With Me Tonight, Patty & The Emblems – Mixed Up Shook Up Girl, Soul Survivors – Expressway To Your Heart, Dee Dee Warwick – I’m Gonna Make You Love Me, Jerry Butler – Only The Strong Survive, Billy Paul – Me And Mrs Jones, Three Degrees – When Will I See You Again, People’s Choice – Do It Any Way You Want, Lou Rawls – Let Me Be Good To You (12 inch version), Simply Red – If You Don’t Know Me By Now, Teddy Pendergrass – Heaven Only Knows, Leon Huff – Groovy People, Leon Huff – Bad Weather BluesFollow @Soulinterviews