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Gene McFadden, 56; Wrote Hit R&B Songs in the 1970s

January 30, 2006|From a Times Staff Writer

Gene McFadden, part of a songwriting team that wrote and recorded the 1979 hit anthem "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now," has died. He was 56.

McFadden, who had battled liver and lung cancer, died Friday at his Philadelphia home, his family said.

He was half of the hit-making duo McFadden and Whitehead. John Whitehead was shot and killed outside his Philadelphia home in May 2004. His slaying remains unsolved.

As teenagers, McFadden and Whitehead formed the soul group the Epsilons. The band toured with Otis Redding, who managed them until his death in 1967.

Frustrated by their relative lack of success as performers, McFadden and Whitehead turned to songwriting and eventually wrote 400 songs together.

They became songwriters for Philadelphia International Records, a soul music powerhouse. The first song they wrote for the label, "Back Stabbers," took the O'Jays to the top of the R&B charts in 1972.

"Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now" was a Top 20 hit that the duo wrote for the O'Jays but decided to record themselves.

An earlier song with a message -- "Wake Up Everybody" -- that they wrote topped the R&B chart for two weeks in 1976. It was recorded by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes with vocals by Teddy Pendergrass.

McFadden, who was a native of Philadelphia, once said the inspiration for "Wake Up Everybody" wasn't political.

"We were just thinking the world needs to get better."

McFadden is survived by his wife of 38 years, Barbara; two daughters; and two sons.

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