- Eric R. Jackson
composer, drummer, and singer, was born Theodore DeReese Pendergrass in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Ida Geraldine Epps and Jesse Pendergrass, both of whom were the children of South Carolina sharecroppers. Jesse Pendergrass mysteriously abandoned his original family and remarried when Teddy was a small child. Teddy did not see his biological father again until 1961, one year before Jesse was murdered by a neighborhood “friend” over a supposed gambling debt. Despite being fatherless and an only child, Teddy's early childhood years were filled with the constant love and affection of his mother and several aunts, especially his aunt Ila David (Aunt Dee), who bestowed on him the nickname “Teddy the Bear” when he was two years old. During these years Ida Pendergrass instilled in her son the belief that God had chosen him to achieve greatness.
Pendergrass first exhibited signs of his musical talent ...
A version of this article originally appeared in African American National Biography.