Passings: Richie Ingui of the Soul Survivors
|Charlie & Richie Ingui of the Soul Survivors|
Richie Ingui, who founded the Philadelphia group The Soul Survivors with his brother Charlie and Kenny Jeremiah, died on Friday, January 13.
The Soul Survivors originally formed as The Dedications and released a number of tracks between 1962 and 1964 before changing their name to the Soul Survivors and signing with Crimson Records in 1965.
They were paired up with the young Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff who wrote and produced their first and biggest hit, Expressway to Your Heart (1967 / #4 Pop / #3 R&B). The group charted three more times with Explosions in Your Soul (1967 / #33 Pop / #45 R&B), Impossible Mission (Mission Impossible) (1968 / #68 Pop) and City of Brotherly Love (1974 / #75 R&B).
When the group broke up, Richie became a house painter, but the two brothers began playing occasional shows starting in 1987.
Gamble-Huff Music released a special statement on Ingui:
Legendary Philadelphia International Records co-founders and R&B pioneers Kenneth Gamble & Leon Huff released the following joint statement today as they mourned the passing this weekend of Richie Ingui of The Soul Survivors, whose 1967 crossover classic, “Expressway to Your Heart,” launched The Sound of Philadelphia (TSOP) as the first of dozens of hits for Gamble & Huff as songwriters and producers. Richie and his brother Charlie continued to perform and record together as the Soul Survivors, and were preparing to mark the song’s 50th anniversary this year:
"We send our very sincere condolences to Charlie and Richie's families. Not only did they bring our Philly Sound and Gamble & Huff to the national spotlight first with the hit song "Expressway to Your Heart," but they were truly like Brothers to us. Richie was a true soul singer who sang from the heart. We will truly miss him, and the unique and mellow voice he brought to of this amazing group, the Soul Survivors."
“Expressway to Your Heart” became the first “crossover” hit for The Soul Survivors, reaching #3 on the R&B chart and #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1967. It also was ranked #18 on Billboard magazine's Top Hot 100 songs of 1967. Kenny Gamble has been frequently quoted saying he wrote the lyrics while he was driving on the Schuylkill Expressway, en route to visit his girlfriend at the time, teen pop sensation Dee Dee Sharp (“Mashed Potato Time”). Gamble & Huff loaded "Expressway to Your Heart" with honking horns and other automotive sound effects, but the record's principal strength lay in its soulful vocals and pounding beat.
The Ingui brothers last performed together in November at the Marian Anderson Awards at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia. Charlie and Richie captivated the crowd with an extended Gamble & Huff medley, closing their set with a scording rendition of "Expressway."
The Soul Survivors first played together in New York as The Dedications before relocating to Philadelphia, where Gamble & Huff started working with them. "Expressway to Your Heart" was a #1 hit regionally in Philadelphia and New York in the fall of 1967, and wound up spending 15 weeks on the Billboard charts and selling over one million copies.
Once “Expressway” became a huge hit, the group toured extensively, appearing on the same bills with such diverse acts as Jackie Wilson, The Miracles, Sam and Dave, Janis Joplin, the Beach Boys and Sly and the Family Stone, among many others.
Subsequent hits for the Soul Survivors included, “Explosion In My Soul,” “Mission Impossible (Impossible Mission),” and “City of Brotherly Love.”
For the past few years, the Ingui brothers have supplemented their touring as The Soul Survivors as part of David Uosikkinen’s “In the Pocket” project, an all-star collective of musicians who have contributed to the musical history of Philadelphia. Charlie and Richie also sang on In the Pocket’s recent remake of “Expressway to Your Heart.”
In 2013, The Soul Survivors were honored by Philadelphia International Records with the annual Phillies Gamble & Huff Community Partnership Award at Citizens Bank Park.