Philadelphia International Building To Be Razed, Marking End Of An Era
October 17, 2014 at 12:18 PM (PT)
The “Love Train” that has carried “The Sound of PHILADELPHIA (TSOP)” to “people all over the world” for almost half-century made its last stop at 309 S. BROAD STREET this week as the legendary PHILADELPHIA INTERNATIONAL RECORDS label, founded by ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME producer-songwriters KENNETH GAMBLE and LEON HUFF, was officially shut down with the sale of its historic building to a prominent local developer.
"The closing of the company and building is definitely bittersweet, but we are extremely proud and honored to have been able to create so much great music out of our ‘309’ location,” said GAMBLE & HUFF in a joint statement. “It was such a blessing and miracle how all of this came together over 50 years. More importantly, we would like to thank all of the wonderful musicians, artists and staff members who helped make PHILADELPHIA INTERNATIONAL RECORDS what it became –- and what it remains –- an incredible AFRICAN-AMERICAN institution and music and cultural brand.”
GAMBLE & HUFFs PHILADELPHIA INTERNATIONAL RECORDS became the birthplace, incubator and launching pad for the PHILLY SOUL, with a stable core of artists led by THE O'JAYS, HAROLD MELVIN & THE BLUE NOTES, BILLY PAUL, MFSB and THE THREE DEGREES.
The label produced some of the world’s greatest hit songs such as “ Love Train,” “If You Don’t Know Me by Now,” "For The Love Of Money," "Don't Leave Me This Way," “Me and Mrs. Jones,” "Enjoy Yourself," "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me," "Only the Strong Survive," “You'll Never Find A Love Like Mine,” “Ain’t No Stoppin Us Now,” "TSOP" (better known as the "Soul Train" theme) and many other Top 10 BILLBOARD hits over the past 50 years. The PIR catalog has some of the most sampled R&B songs in the world.
The iconic “PHILADELPHIA INTERNATIONAL RECORDS” blue neon sign that adorned the historic “SOUND OF PHILADELPHIA” building was permanently removed this week in final preparations for the famous structure’s demolition. The lowering of the sign symbolized the end of a legendary record label and an era whose music will continue to resonate deeply with “people all over the world” for generations to come.
Prior to PIR, the building was the place where CHUBBY CHECKER recorded “The Twist,” and DEE DEE SHARP recorded “The Mashed Potato,” as the home of the legendary CAMEO-PARKWAY record label. Other famous CAMEO-PARKWAY artists who created hits at the “309” studio included BOBBY RYDELL, THE ORLONS and THE DOVELLS.
"It's the end of an era," said SIGMA SOUND Founder and engineer JOE TARSIA, who built the original recording studio in 1963 for CAMEO-PARKWAY RECORDS. That studio became SIGMA SOUND SOUTH, most famously known as the in-house studio at PIR for recording many of the label’s artists. “But the music lives on.”
In recent years leading up to the arson fire, the PIR offices had become a major tourist attraction, hosting visitors eager to see the historic rooms and hallways where the legendary music was created. The offices and recording studios also have been the site of several film documentaries and television specials and media visits, as well as special receptions, including a recent event honoring MOTOWN's BERRY GORDY. GAMBLE & HUFF also originated their recent radio series on SIRIUSXM from the third floor recording studios.
Workers on cherry pickers and ladders carefully removed the “PHILADELPHIA INTERNATIONAL RECORDS” sign and disassembled it into six pieces, then strapped it piece by piece onto the back of a flatbed truck. The sign was then transported to safe storage with other artifacts and memorabilia from the famous recording studios and offices being preserved for future museum consideration.