The former headquarters of Philadelphia International Records, the label which under the leadership of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff created the “Philadelphia sound” exemplified by artists like Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes and The O’Jays, will soon only exist in memory.
“It was bittersweet. It was tough,” said Chuck Gamble, Kenny’s nephew, of seeing the Philadelphia International sign get taken down Wednesday after 40 years.
“It was one of the very first Afro-American institutions along the Avenue of the Arts,” he said. “It has a major place in American history and music. Very man people looked to that location as an institution.”
The former record label’s building at Broad and Spruce streets, which was heavily damaged due to a 2010 arson, will soon be razed to make way for the SLS International Development by Dranoff Properties.
That sale was announced late last year.
Gamble said that ideally, the relics and memorabilia of the record label will eventually be housed in their own, Philadelphia-specific music museum, like the Motown Museum in Detroit or the Memphis Rock’n’Soul Museum.
“My interest is to one day build a museum here in the city,” Gamble said.
That memorabilia includes platinum and gold records, two recording boards, five pianos including Gamble and Huff’s original piano that they played songs on including “Love Train,” and Gamble’s handmade desk and chair.
Earlier this year, Sony purchased the entire back catalog of all Philadelphia International Records recordings and has begun reissuing their music.
Meanwhile, an autobiography of Gamble and Huff has been written and will be published soon, with a theatrical adaptation expected to follow.