From the first moment his two fingers pounded on the “C” keys in the opening melody to “Back Stabbers,” Leon Huff helped to bring the genre of Philadelphia soul music to the world. Along with his partner, Kenneth Gamble, Leon Huff wrote or co-wrote over 3,000 songs in 35 years, including RandB #1 hits, pop #1 hits, gold and platinum records, Grammy winners and BMI songwriters’ awards honorees.
Born in Camden, New Jersey, on April 8, 1942, Leon Huff was exposed to music through his mother, who played piano and organ for the 10th Street Baptist Church choir. “That’s how the piano got in our house,” Huff remembers today. “We had our own piano; we were the only family on the block that had a big upright piano in the dining room, up against the wall. My mother taught me some of the basics, but I had some formal teaching through the school system and private lessons. I still like to go to the churches to hear the good music.”
Besides his burgeoning piano skills, Huff participated in several “doo-wop” groups throughout Camden. One group Huff participated in, the Dynaflows, auditioned for Ted Mack’s Original Amateur Hour. Another group, the Lavenders, recorded a regional hit, “The Slide” [C.R. 103].