AFTER THE FIRE: Gamble & Huff Vow To Rebuild


[Photo by JEFF FUSCO]

RANDY ALEXANDER: Describing the burned-out remains of their historic “Sound of Philadelphia” offices as “total devastation,” legendary Rock and Roll Hall of Fame songwriter-producers Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff held a press conference today to express their outrage and sorrow from seeing the iconic birthplace of Philly Soul Music ravaged early Sunday by a fire termed “suspicious” by officials. Despite the extensive damage to the third-floor at 309 S. Broad St., where the Philadelphia International Records (PIR) offices and recording studio are located and the fire apparently originated, Gamble & Huff vow to rebuild their home of 40 years, a major tourist attraction where Michael Jackson, Teddy Pendergrass, Patti LaBelle, the O’Jays, Lou Rawls, Chubby Checker and dozens more created worldwide smash hits. “Our space has been violated by someone who chose to set fire to it,” said Gamble & Huff in a joint statement. “But what’s most important is that we will build it again and continue to rebuild. Nothing is going to stop us.” Following a preliminary survey of the monumental brick building, which they first took over in 1970 with legendary producer and songwriter Thom Bell in 1970, Gamble & Huff estimated they have lost approximately 40 percent of the memorabilia that adorned the walls, filled their offices and was kept in storage closets. The losses include numerous Gold and Platinum records and PIR’s personal inventory of CDs by Teddy Pendergrass, Michael Jackson and the Jacksons, Patti LaBelle and Lou Rawls. “Some of the things we lost in the fire are irreplaceable,” said Gamble & Huff. “We will know better in the days ahead what our total losses will be.” Gamble & Huff consider it a “blessing” that the third floor recording studio, where countless hit songs were partially created in conjunction with Sigma Sound Studios, appears to have suffered the least damage and may have been completely saved. Its functionality will ultimately be determined by fire officials and PIR technicians.

PREVIOUSLY: Philadelphia International Catches Fire

UPDATE: Investigators said Cimini had been drinking all night in Center City before he went to the studio around 6 a.m. From surveillance video showing him knocking and banging on the door, police believe Cimini thought he was “somewhere familiar,” such as a friend’s apartment. Eventually, Cimini kicked the door until he broke the glass and squirmed inside, said police Capt. John Gallagher, of East Detectives and the Arson Response Team. Once inside the studio, police said Cimini vandalized the place, setting off a fire extinguisher and eventually igniting items in a merchandize storage room sometime after 7 a.m. MORE

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