02/01/2010 at 01:00 AM EST
>• One of the great R&B voices of the '70s, Pendergrass died at 59 on Jan. 13.
"When Teddy said, 'Turn off the lights,' you gon' do it! He had that authority in his voice. It made you pay attention. So powerful, so much passion. As I grew up, the grown folks would play Teddy or Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes [for whom Pendergrass sang lead] at house parties, and I started to mimic him. Actually, I just did a song called 'Matrimony' and purposely sang it like Teddy. And his outfits? Teddy was sexilicious. I want that beard! Even after his car accident [in 1982, which left him paralyzed from the waist down], he kept singing. He didn't let it deter him."