Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff (seated)
A weekend fire, termed as “suspicious” in origin by fire officials, swept through the headquarters of legendary producer songwriters Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, the seminal R&B songwriting team and co-architects of “The Sound of Philadelphia” and founders and partners of Philadelphia International Records (PIR). The blaze, which was reported early Sunday morning, gutted the historic office building that has been their home since 1970, when the duo took it over with legendary producer and partner Thom Bell.
The complex where the Gamble-Huff/PIR music machine generated more than 100 Gold and Platinum records and more than 70 Number One hits—including “Love Train” by the O’Jays, “Me & Mrs. Jones” by Billy Paul, “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes and “Enjoy Yourself” by The Jacksons—suffered major damage. Fortunately, the recording studio itself (with its walls still adorned by the original orange shag carpet) was relatively unscathed. The company’s 10,000 master tapes are stored in a secure location offsite and were unaffected.
Describing the burned-out remains of their historic “Sound of Philadelphia” offices as “total devastation,” legendary Rock and Roll Hall of Fame songwriter-producers Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff held a press conference today to express their outrage and sorrow. And despite the extensive damage to the third-floor at 309 S. Broad St., where the Philadelphia International Records offices and recording studio are located, Gamble & Huff vow to rebuild their home of 40 years.
“Our space has been violated by someone who chose to set fire to it,” said Gamble & Huff in a joint statement. “But what’s most important is that we will build it again and continue to rebuild. Nothing is going to stop us.”
Prior to the Philadelphia International Records era, this historic building at Broad and Spruce Streets was the home of the Cameo-Parkway record label where Chubby Checker recorded “The Twist” and Dee Dee Sharp recorded “The Mashed Potato.”
Philadelphia International Records’ Website is www.gamble-huffmusic.com.