Philadelphia, sometimes called the City of Brotherly Love and often dubbed the Quaker City, is also one of the cradles of American popular music as we know it today. The Philadelphia sound was first associated with such early springboards of modern rock and roll as Frankie Avalon, Fabian and Dick Clark's American Bandstand TV show in the late '50s and early '60s.
Somewhat later in the evolution cycle came a totally different version of the Philadelphia sound as exemplified by the creativity of a pair of young songwriters and record producers, Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, whose company, Philadelphia International, became a true trailblazer of modern popular music.
Each of the young men found his way into the music world via his own special sound. Huff made his entrance as a pianist best known for his style of making the eighty-eight keys actually laugh. It was a light-hearted happy style of playing and it was distinctive, contributing as one of the basic elements of the new sound emanating from South Broad Street.
Born in the neighboring New Jersey city of Camden, Leon Huff began playing the piano at age five, which later led to his becoming an accompanist for the junior choir of the 10th Street Baptist Church in Camden. Later, he could frequently be found performing on street corners with "doo wop" groups. He enjoyed minor early success with a group known as The Dynaflows, who after becoming The Lavenders, enjoyed a regional hit with their recording of "The Slide."
In the late '50s, Huff became a commuter between Philadelphia and New York City. He became a well-known figure…