It has been announced that Gordy Harmon, a founding member of soul act The Whispers, passed away in his sleep last Thursday, aged 79. His death has been attributed to natural causes.
“‘We are saddened by the passing of one of the founders and former member of the Whispers,” The Whispers wrote on their Instagram. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and his memory and his contributions will never be forgotten. Much love.”
Harmon co-founded The Whispers in Watts, California, in 1963 alongside identical twins Wallace and Walter Scott, Marcus Hutson, and Nicholas Caldwell. The group first recorded on the Los Angeles label Doré in 1964, and eventually released their debut album, Planets of Life, in 1969, on Soul Clock. Notably, in 1966 The Whispers relocated to the San Francisco area after being invited there by the eminent Sly Stone.
Although The Whispers’ early singles were successful, 1969’s ‘Seems Like I Gotta Do Wrong’ was their first to reach the R&B top ten.
In 1972, The Whispers signed to Janus Records, and released two albums that year, Life and Breath and Bingo. These would be their only records for the label before they moved over to Don Cornelius’s Soul Train Records.
As for Harmon, he left the group in 1973 due to suffering a larynx injury in a car accident. He was replaced by Leaveil Degree, who had made his name in the popular group Friends of Distinction.
Across the following years, The Whispers would achieve greater success than previously. Their self-titled 1979 album went platinum and spawned the hit ‘And the Beat Goes on’, and they would continue to release popular tracks such as ‘It’s a Love Thing’ and the 1987 top ten smash, ‘Rock Steady’.
The Whispers are still active today. However, Huston passed in 2000 and Caldwell in 2016. In 2014, they were inducted into the R&B Hall of Fame for their efforts.