Gordy Harmon, Founding Member of R&B Group The Whispers, Has Died

Jaelani Turner-Williams Jaelani Turner-Williams is a contributing news writer for Okayplayer with…
Photo Credit: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Gordy Harmon, founding member of long-running R&B and soul group The Whispers, died at his Los Angeles home last Thursday.

Gordy Harmon, founding member of legendary R&B and soul group The Whispers, died last Thursday (January 5), while sleeping at his Los Angeles home. The musician, who is believed to have died from natural causes, was 79-years-old.

“‘We are saddened by the passing of one of the founders and former member of the Whispers,” said the group on their Instagram page. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and his memory and his contributions will never be forgotten. Much love.”

 

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Harmon co-founded The Whispers in the Los Angeles County of Watts in 1963, with fellow members Marcus Hutson, Nicholas Caldwell, and brothers Wallace and Walter Scott. The group first recorded on Los Angeles record label Doré Records in 1964, before releasing their 1969 debut album Planets Of Life on Soul Clock Label. One of The Whispers’ earliest singles “The Time Will Come” reached No. 17 on the national US Soul chart in 1969 before their breakthrough hit “Seems Like I Gotta Do Wrong” became their first R&B top ten song.

By 1972, The Whispers went to Janus Records, releasing two albums in the same year, Life and Breath and Bingo. In 1973, Harmon left the group due to sustaining a larynx injury during a car accident. Harmon was later replaced by Leaveil Degree, who had previously been a member of R&B and pop group Friends of Distinction. The Whispers soon became a popular soul and crossover group during the 1970s and 1980s, with their 1979 eponymous album receiving a platinum status with their first Billboard Hot 100 top-20 hit “And the Beat Goes On.” While on Dick Griffey’s Solar Records during the majority of both decades, the group continued to funnel hits including “It’s A Love Thing,” “Keep On Lovin’ Me,” and “Rock Steady.”

After a period on Capitol Records during the late ’80s into the early ’90s, Hutson died in 2000 and Caldwell died in 2016. In 2014, The Whispers were inducted into the Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame.

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