SHOF Co-Chairman with partner Kenny Gamble
"Philly Sound" co-founder; wrote "Me and Mrs. Jones" and over 1,000 songs
Along with his partner Kenneth Gamble, songwriter-producer Leon Huff has penned a multitude of timeless pop and R&B hits including Billy Paul's "Me and Mrs. Jones," the Soul Survivors' "Expressway to Your Heart," "Archie Bell and the Drells' "I Can't Stop Dancing," the Three Degrees' "When Will I See You Again," Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes' "If You Don't Know Me by Now," and "Don't Leave Me This Way" and The O'Jays "Love Train" and "Now That We Found Love." Other top artists who have covered their songs include Elvis Presley, Jerry Butler, Patti LaBelle, Phyllis Hyman, Freddie Scott, the Sweet Inspirations, Betty Everett, Dusty Springfield, Wilson Pickett, Nancy Wilson, Joe Simon, The Jacksons, Lou Rawls and Teddy Pendergrass.
On his own or with other writers like Len Barry, Bobby Rush, Gene McFadden and John Whitehead, John Madara and David White, Huff has also written such hits as The O'Jays' "Back Stabbers" and the People's Choices' "Do It Any Way You Wanna" along with other hits for artists like Barry, Chubby Checker and Archie Bell and the Drells.
Indeed, Huff's output is so prodigious that he's written or co-written over 3,000. He has received over 300 gold and platinum records in addition to numerous Grammy Award nominations (he and Gamble own a Lifetime Achievement Grammy), and with Gamble, helped pioneer the R&B subgenre of "Philadelphia soul": Together they formed Philadelphia International Records in 1971 and after signing to a distribution deal with CBS Records, wrote and produced so many of the hits already mentioned, and so many more.
Leon Huff was born in Camden, New Jersey, on April 8, 1942. He was initially exposed to music through his mother, who played piano and organ for a church choir and taught him some of the basics, though he also took formal lessons. He performed with several local doo-wop groups (including the Lavenders, who recorded the regional hit, "The Slide") and also played on Phil Spector's legendary 1963 Christmas album and the Ronettes' classic Spector-produced "Baby, I Love You." Working with Philly production duo Johnny Madera and David White took him to recording sessions with Brill Building songwriter-producers Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller (his first was the Ad-Libs' hit "Boy From New York City").
Encouraged by Madera and White, Huff began writing his own songs, and after scoring the first major hit for Patty and the Emblems ("Mixed Up, Shook Up Girl"), he met Kenny Gamble in 1962. He worked in Gamble's band The Romeos and formed a production company with him in New York's Shubert Theatre building. Partners ever since, they found immediate success and by the end of 1974, Gamble & Huff—and co-publisher Thom Bell (The Stylistics, The Spinners)—were the leading pop and soul producers in the business, with Huff even releasing a solo album as an artist. Meanwhile, Philadelphia International was the second-biggest African-American owned record company in America,right behind Motown, while Mighty Three Music Group, the publishing arm of music from Gamble, Huff and Bell, was recognized among the top R&B/soul music publishers.
Gamble, Huff and Bell were inducted into the Philadelphia Music Foundations's Walk of Fame in 1993 and have received many other Philadelphia and Camden area civic awards. Gamble and Huff were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1995 and received the hall's Johnny Mercer Award—its highest honor--in 2014. The team was also inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008 in the non-performer category.