What to Know
- Donald Gardner, a Philadelphia soul and jazz pioneer who worked with iconic singers and penned the R&B hit, "Need Your Lovin'," has died.
- Gardner passed away on Sept. 4 at the age of 87, according to a family spokesperson.
- Gardner is known for his mixture of soul and jazz music. He also helped mentor several young musicians later on in his life.
Donald Gardner, a Philadelphia soul and jazz pioneer who worked with iconic singers and penned the R&B hit, "Need Your Lovin'," has died.
Gardner passed away on Sept. 4 at the age of 87, according to a family spokesperson.
Gardner, who taught himself how to play the drums and sing as a teenager, first began performing solo in 1947. He then created his first music group, the Sonotones in 1953.
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In 1962, Gardner wrote and performed the biggest hit of his career, "Need Your Lovin'," which rose to #4 on the R&B charts. The song was covered numerous times by other singers, including Otis Redding, Tom Jones and Jackie Wilson.
Throughout his career he collaborated with several artists including Baby Washington, Dinah Washington, Billy Eckstine and Count Basie. Besides "Need Your Lovin'," his other hits include, "Glory of Love," "Don't You Worry," and "Lay A Little Lovin' On Me."
Gardner continued performing as a solo artist and also became an A&R manager as well as a nightclub owner in the 1980s.
Gardner became board president of the Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz and Performing Arts in the early 1990s. During his time as president, he protected the organization's mission to preserve the legacy of jazz and helped young jazz musicians develop their skills.
"He encouraged me to try out as a guitar player for Jack McDuff's organ quartet," guitarist, singer and songwriter George Benson said. "I believed I had no chance of getting that gig, but Don was confident that I could achieve my goal. I tried out and I got the gig. I was 19 years old and that was the beginning of a career I could never have imagined."
Gardner is survived by a son, daughter, seven grandchildren and four great grandchildren.
A memorial service for Gardner will be held on Oct. 11 and Oct. 12 at the Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz and Performing Arts on 738 South Broad Street in Philadelphia. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial donations be given to the Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz and Performing Arts.