Category Archives: Walk of Fame

About the Walk of Fame

Established in 1986, the Walk of Fame is the creation of the Philadelphia Music Alliance, a community-based organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Philadelphia’s rich musical legacy, supporting the current music scene and mentoring the next generation of music makers.

The Walk of Fame Plaque - 1986

Lee Andrews & the Hearts

One of the finest R&B vocal groups of the ’50s, Lee Andrews & the Hearts specialized in smooth ballads and were influenced by similar vocal acts like the Moonglows, the Orioles, the Drifters, the 5 Royales, the Five Keys, the Midnighters, and the Ravens, while lead vocalist Lee Andrews’ influences were mostly solo artists like Bing Crosby, Frankie Laine, Frank Sinatra, and especially Nat King Cole. These two key influences — a harmonizing four-part vocal base with a strong but tender tenor voice leading the way — was the foundation of the Hearts’ hard-to-beat sound.

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Lee Andrews Plaque

Pearl Bailey

The daughter of a preacher, Pearl Bailey began singing at the age of three (her brother, Bill Bailey, also taught her a few dance steps). She was performing professionally by her early teenage years and after touring as a dancer for several years, she featured both as a singer and dancer with jazz bands led by Noble Sissle, Cootie Williams and Edgar Hayes. She began performing as a solo act in 1944, and wooed nightclub audiences with her relaxed stage presence and humorous asides. After briefly replacing Sister Rosetta Tharpe in Cab Calloway’s Orchestra during the mid-’40s, she debuted on Broadway during 1946 in the musical St. Louis Woman. Bailey earned an award for most promising newcomer, and made her first film, Variety Girl, in 1947.

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Pearl Bailey - 1.12.15

Thom Bell

In tandem with the visionary production team of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, arranger and producer Thom Bell was among the principal architects of the lush and seductive Philly soul sound, one of the most popular and influential musical developments of the 1970s. Born in Philadelphia in 1941, Bell studied classical piano as a youth; he joined Gamble’s harmony group the Romeos in 1959, and by the age of 19 was working as a conductor and arranger for hometown hero Chubby Checker. Within months he began writing original material for Checker as well, eventually joining the singer’s production company. When Checker’s organization folded, Bell signed on as a session pianist with Cameo Records, where he first worked with the local soul group the Delfonics. When their manager Stan Watson formed the Philly Groove label in 1968, Bell came aboard as a producer, helming Delfonics classics like 1968’s “La La Means I Love You” and 1970’s “Didn’t I Blow Your Mind This Time.”

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Thom Bell - Resized

Michael Brecker

Tenor saxophonist and composer Michael Brecker is a multiple Grammy winner, and the first to win both the “Best Jazz Instrumental Performance” and “Best Jazz Instrumental Solo” awards two years in a row. As a result of his stylistic and harmonic innovations, Michael is among the most studied instrumentalists in music schools throughout the world today.

Born into a musical household in 1949 in Philadelphia, Michael’s father had played records by Dave Brubeck and Clifford Brown for his sons and took Michael and his older brother Randy to see Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk and Duke Ellington. While Randy took up trumpet, Michael launched his studies on clarinet and alto sax. When moved by the genius of John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins, among others, Michael switched to tenor in high school. After studying, as did his brother, at the University of Indiana, he moved to New York City, landing work with several bands before co-founding the pioneering jazz-rock group Dreams in 1970.

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Michael Brecker Plaque

Randy Brecker

Randy Brecker has been shaping the sound of jazz, R&B and rock for more than three decades. His trumpet and flugelhorn performances have graced hundreds of albums by a wide range of artists from James Taylor, Bruce Springsteen, Chaka Khan, George Benson and Parliament-Funkadelics to Frank Sinatra, Steely Dan, David Sanborn, Horace Silver, Jaco Pastorius and Frank Zappa.

Randy Brecker’s history is as varied as it is distinguished. Born in Philadelphia to a piano-playing father, Randy spent summers in stage-band camps where he got his earliest experience in ensemble playing. He began playing R&B and funk in local bar bands while in his teens, but at the same time he had an ear for hard bop. “I’d listen to Sonny Rollins, Lee Morgan, Miles’ Quintets, Art Blakey, Horace Silver, the Clifford Brown/Max Roach group,” explains Brecker.

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Randy Brecker Plaque

Clifford Brown

Clifford Brown was one of the 20th century’s greatest trumpet players. He represented the highest level of instrumental excellence and influenced a generation of jazz musicians. Dizzy Gillespie called him “the next major voice in the line of trumpeters.” As impressive and historically important as his musical accomplishments were, his personal impact on those who knew him is also quite extraordinary. His profound work ethic, personal integrity, kind-hearted nature, and commitment to excellence deeply affected his friends and fellow musicians. Jazz legend Sonny Rollins once remarked “Clifford was a profound influence on my personal life. He showed me that it was possible to live a good, clean life and still be a good jazz musician.”

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Clifford Brown Plaque