Gordy Harmon, founding member of The Whispers, has died at the age of 79, as confirmed by his family.
ABC 7 reported that the singer died peacefully in his sleep on Thursday (Jan. 5) in his Los Angeles home. It was believed he died of natural causes.
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The acclaimed R&B quintet was founded by Harmon, twin brothers Wallace and Walter Scott, along with Marcus Hutson and Nicholas Caldwell in 1964. They met one another in Watts, a neighborhood in the Los Angeles area, where most of the group resided in the Jordan Downs housing project. Their name was derived from the owner of a small record label in Hollywood, who suggested The Whispers as it reflected their soft vocal styling.
Though garnering fame through albums like The Whispers’ Love Story, Planets of Life, and Life and Breath and with early singles, “The Time Will Come” (1969) and “Seems Like I Gotta Do Wrong” (1970), their peak arrived in the ’80s.
Tragically, Harmon left the band in 1973 due to an injury to his larynx from a driving accident, according to the Los Angeles Sentinel. He was replaced by Leaveil Degree, formerly of Friends of Distinction. The Whispers later found success following Harmon’s tenure with hits including “And the Beat Goes On” and “Rock Steady,” which both soared to No. 1 on the R&B charts.
They were awarded with the Governors Award by the San Francisco chapter of the Grammy Awards in 2005 and were inducted into the R&B Music Hall of Fame in 2014, two years after receiving the Soul Music Hall of Fame Award.
VIBE sends our deepest condolences to the Harmon family during this time.