The Philadelphia Sound is weeping today at the passing of classic R&B producer and composer Bobby Martin, who passed away Friday at a San Diego, Calif. hospital. He was 83.
Best known for his arrangement of Billy Paul’s “Me and Mrs. Jones” and his work on the Soul Train theme song, Martin started his long-running career right here in Philly in 1959. Through Leon Huff and Kenny Gamble’s Philadelphia International Records, Martin helped to establish the soulful Philadelphia Sound, earning him his moniker, “Grandaddy of R&B and soul music.”
Throughout his career, Martin teamed up with major artists like Whitney Houston, Dusty Springfield the Bee Gees and Lou Rawls. He even gave Patricia Holte-Edwards her stage name: Patti LaBelle.
Publicist Belinda Foster addressed Martin’s death via a statement:
“Through his gift in arranging music, he has birthed hit records that have risen to the occasion to become timeless classics. His warm smile, kind heart, and passion for creating music shine on in our memories of Mr. Bobby Martin. He will forever be the Maestro of the Philadelphia Sound to all who knew him well.”
At the time of his death, Martin was working on a compilation of previously unheard Philadelphia Soul tracks while simultaneously starting his nonprofit, the Bobby Martin Foundation.
Funeral plans are currently forthcoming. In the meantime, play us out, Billy Paul: