50 Years Later, Gamble and Huff’s Philly Sound Stirs the Soul
By Alan Light
Feb. 25, 2021
Updated 10:52 a.m. ET
By the late 1970s, things had gotten so busy at Philadelphia International Records that the label’s co-founders, Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, had to leave town to write new songs. During one trip to Jamaica, they were settling in at the piano when a power outage hit the island.
“It was scary for a second, but then we said, ‘Turn off the lights,’” Huff recalled in a recent interview. “Gamble got a candle so we could see, so that was the second line: ‘Light a candle.’” Sitting in the dark, they soon sketched out “Turn Off the Lights,” which became a No. 2 R&B hit for the powerhouse sex symbol Teddy Pendergrass.
“We were just in a creative zone,” Huff explained, still sounding both amused and a little bit awed.