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Leon Huff

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Information about Leon Huff

Profile image of Leon Huff

Profession

Category:
MusicMakers
Occupation(s):
Music Producer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Brown
Favorite Food:
Fish, Rice, Broccoli
Favorite Time of Year:
Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Miami, Florida
Favorite Quote:
The Beat Goes On.

Birthplace

Born:
4/8/1942
Birth Location:
Camden, New Jersey

Profession

Category:
MusicMakers
Occupation(s):
Music Producer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Brown
Favorite Food:
Fish, Rice, Broccoli
Favorite Time of Year:
Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Miami, Florida
Favorite Quote:
The Beat Goes On.

Birthplace

Born:
4/8/1942
Birth Location:
Camden
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Biography

R&B record company owner Leon Huff was born in Camden, New Jersey on April 8, 1942. 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. One of his groups, “The Dynaflows,” auditioned for the popular television show, Ted Mack’s Original Amateur Hour.

In 1950, Huff and Kenneth Gamble came together in a vocal group called “The Romeos.” Huff had already worked in sessions with music producer Phil Spector in New York, including the Danny and the Juniors hit “Let's Go to the Hop.” Returning to Philadelphia, Huff did sessions for local label Cameo who were already successful with Chubby Checker and Bobby Rydell. Fellow Romeo, Kenny Gamble, co-wrote a song for Candy and the Kisses on which Huff performed. In 1966, Gamble and Huff formed Excel Records; and, in 1967, they produced the Soul Survivors’ hit single, “Expressway to Your Heart.” They continued working as independent producers with acts like Archie Bell and the Drells and Jerry Butler. They also had their own Neptune Label (through Chess Records) and Gamble records.

In 1971, Gamble and Huff formed their own label, Philadelphia International Records, and secured a distribution deal with CBS. 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. During the 1980s, Huff continued to collaborate with Gamble, writing and producing tracks for Patti LaBelle, Phyllis Hyman, Lou Rawls, and The O’ Jays.

Gamble and Huff have been awarded the highest accolades in the music industry. In 1993, Huff, along with his songwriting and producing partners Kenny Gamble and Thom Bell, was inducted into the Philadelphia Music Foundation’s Walk of Fame; brass plaques with their names were placed on the sidewalk of Broad Street’s Avenue of the Arts in Philadelphia not far from Philadelphia International studios. Gamble and Huff were inducted into the National Academy of Songwriters’ Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 1999, they received the Trustees Award from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

Musician Leon A. Huff was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 26, 2013.

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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Leon Huff's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Leon Huff lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Leon Huff describes his mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Leon Huff talks about his early exposure to music
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Leon Huff remembers his mother's career
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Leon Huff describes his father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Leon Huff talks about his paternal family's migration to Camden, New Jersey
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Leon Huff talks about his father's career
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Leon Huff describes his likeness to his parents
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Leon Huff describes his earliest child memory
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Leon Huff remembers playing drums in the school band
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Leon Huff recalls playing piano at the Tenth Street Baptist Church in Camden, New Jersey
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Leon Huff describes his mother's role in his early education
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Leon Huff remembers his father's barbershop
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Leon Huff recalls playing in the marching band at Camden High School in Camden, New Jersey
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Leon Huff remembers his early musical influences
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Leon Huff describes his neighborhood in Camden, New Jersey
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Leon Huff describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Leon Huff talks about his early influences
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Leon Huff remembers forming The Dynaflows
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Leon Huff remembers watching 'American Bandstand'
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Leon Huff remembers the music venues in Camden, New Jersey
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Leon Huff remembers Lola Falana
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Leon Huff talks about his extracurricular activities
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Leon Huff recalls the entertainment of his childhood
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Leon Huff remembers the music of The Dynaflows and The Lavenders
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Leon Huff remembers the black radio stations in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Leon Huff remembers his aspiration to become a studio musician
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Leon Huff recalls joining Kenny Gamble and the Romeos
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Leon Huff talks about his time with Kenny Gamble and the Romeos
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Leon Huff remembers meeting Kenny Gamble
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Leon Huff remember working with Phil Spector and The Ronettes
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Leon Huff describes his challenges during his early recording career
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Leon Huff talks about his income as a songwriter and musician
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Leon Huff remembers writing 'Mixed Up, Shook Up Girl'
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Leon Huff talks about developing Gamble and Huff's unique sound
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Leon Huff recalls writing for the Soul Survivors and The Intruders
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Leon Huff remembers producing records for Archie Bell and the Drells
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Leon Huff recalls writing songs for Jerry Butler and Dusty Springfield
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Leon Huff describes his songwriting process, pt. 1
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Leon Huff talks about Thom Bell's work with The Delfonics
  • Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Leon Huff recalls writing 'Drowning in the Sea of Love' for Joe Simon
  • Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Leon Huff remembers meeting The O'Jays
  • Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Leon Huff describes his songwriting process, pt. 2
  • Tape: 4 Story: 13 - Leon Huff remembers discovering Teddy Pendergrass
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Leon Huff describes the music of Melvin and the Blue Notes
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Leon Huff talks about The O'Jays' album 'Ship Ahoy'
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Leon Huff remembers producing the MFSB orchestra
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Leon Huff talks about the songwriting process at Philadelphia International Records
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Leon Huff describes the formation of Philadelphia International Records
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Leon Huff recalls working with Wilson Pickett
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Leon Huff remembers recording with Michael Jackson
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Leon Huff remembers Patti LaBelle
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Leon Huff reflects upon his favorite group to produce
  • Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Leon Huff talks about his favorite composition
  • Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Leon Huff recalls recording the long cuts of 'I'll Always Love My Mama' and 'Wake up Everybody'
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Leon Huff remembers Teddy Pendergrass' car crash
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Leon Huff talks about his mentor, Quincy Jones
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Leon Huff remembers signing a production contract with Columbia Records
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Leon Huff talks about the challenges of songwriting
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Leon Huff describes the impact of rap on his record sales
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Leon Huff talks about the recording sessions at Philadelphia International Records
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Leon Huff recalls the effects of his career on his family life
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Leon Huff reflects upon his life
  • Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Leon Huff talks about contemporary music
  • Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Leon Huff talks about his favorite music
  • Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Leon Huff reflects upon his legacy
  • Tape: 6 Story: 12 - Leon Huff talks about his interest in producing a Broadway musical
  • Tape: 6 Story: 13 - Leon Huff remembers meeting Berry Gordy
  • Tape: 6 Story: 14 - Leon Huff talks about his admiration of other black music producers
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Leon Huff remembers the payola investigations
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Leon Huff talks about the founding of the Black Music Association
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Leon Huff reflects upon the impact of his music
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Leon Huff describes how he would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Leon Huff narrates his photographs