Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes were a Philadelphia-based R&B group formed in the late 1950s. Originally known as The Charlemagnes, the group underwent several name changes before settling on Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes. The group’s signature sound was a blend of soulful vocals and smooth instrumentals, with Teddy Pendergrass joining the band in 1970 on lead vocals and Melvin’s distinctive falsetto hitting the highs.

Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes Perform “If you don’t know me by now” on Soul Train, Circa 1972.

One of their biggest hits was “If You Don’t Know Me by Now,” which was released in 1972. The song was written by songwriting duo Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff and became a massive hit, reaching number one on the R&B charts and number three on the pop charts. The song’s poignant lyrics, coupled with Teddy P’s soaring vocals, struck a chord with audiences and cemented the group’s place in R&B history. The song was originally recorded by the group’s fellow artists, Labelle, but when their version failed to gain traction, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes were given the opportunity to record it, and the rest is history. “If You Don’t Know Me by Now” has since been covered by a variety of artists, including Simply Red, who took the song to the top of the charts in the UK in 1989.

Simply Red, cover of “If you don’t know me by now”, released 1989.

It’s crazy when you think about this; that the song almost didn’t make it onto the album. According to legend, producer Thom Bell was initially resistant to including it, feeling that it was too slow and not in line with the uptempo disco sound that was dominating the charts at the time. However, after some convincing from Gamble and Huff, the song was added to the album and quickly became a standout track. To this day, “If You Don’t Know Me by Now” remains a beloved classic and a testament to the enduring power of Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes’ music.

Keep the legends alive!