The Genius of Leon Huff
Leon Huff was born on April 8, 1942 in the New Jersey city of Camden. 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 on the recording studio scene in Manhattan and got to know a host of major league songwriter/producers such as Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller and Phil Spector.
Taking his cue from these acknowledged stars of their craft (Barry, Greenwich, Leiber and Stoller are all Songwriters’ Hall of Fame inductees), Huff began concentrating on his songwriting skills. His first recording as a writer was the number one hit, “The Boy from New York City,” by the Ad Libs.
Later, he wrote the hit song, “Mixed Up, Shook Up Girl,” recorded by Patty and the Emblems. At about the same time, already recognized in New York for his playing, he became active again in Philadelphia as well, as session man, songwriter and neophyte producer.
Already tasting significant success, Huff also found himself in the same building as Kenny Gamble. In 1965, a series of chance meetings in the elevator resulted in a decision to try working together and the two soon formed a production company which later resulted in such hits as “Expressway to Your Heart,” and “Cowboys to Girls,” and later brought the pair into the orbits of such prominent hitmakers as Wilson Pickett, Dusty Springfield, Jerry Butler, Nancy Wilson, Joe Simon and Archie Bell and the Drells.
In 1971, the team of Gamble and Huff formed Philadelphia International Records, a company that would have tremendous impact on the course of pop music-around the world in the years to come. Signed to a distribution deal by CBS Records, the company turned out hit after hit after hit, writing and producing such entries as “Back Stabbers” by the O’Jays; “Me and Mrs. Jones” by Billy Paul; “If You Don’t Know Me by Now” and “The Love I Lost,” both by Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes; and “Love Train” and “For the Love of Money,” by The O’Jays.
Huff is the proud owner of more than 300 gold and platinum records, has been nominated for a number of Grammy Awards and has received numerous Philadelphia and Camden area civic awards.
His latest project on the brink of being released is an album entitled Groovy People. With over 15 years in the making Leon Huff is finally ready to share it with the world. The album consist of remakes of some old time favorites songs such as Hey There Lonely Girl originally sung by Eddie Holman. And also The Way You Do The Things You originally sung by The Temptations. Also featured on the album Mr. Huff’s latest group R&B sensation Ju-Taun as well as new ballads that you are guaranteed to enjoy.