Teddy Pendergrass

Teddy Pendergrass was big in the 1970s and 1980s.

Teddy Pendergrass, who became R&B's reigning sex symbol in the 1970s and '80s with his forceful, masculine voice and passionate love ballads and later became an inspirational figure after suffering a devastating car accident that left him paralyzed, died Wednesday. He was 59.

The singer's son, Teddy Pendergrass II, said his father died at Bryn Mawr Hospital in suburban Philadelphia, eight months after undergoing colon cancer surgery. Pendergrass suffered a spinal cord injury and was paralyzed from the waist down in the 1982 accident. He spent six months in a hospital but returned to recording the next year with the album "Love Language."

Born in Philadelphia in 1950, Pendergrass got his start as a drummer in the Philadelphia soul group Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes before launching his solo career. A full obituary will appear in Friday's editions and on latimes.com.

-- Times staff and wire reports