R.I.P. Richard Pratt, co-founding member of Blue Magic

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    We received sad news this morning via a post from legendary Blue Magic singer, Ted “Wizard” Mills, that Blue Magic co-founder Richard Pratt has died.

    It is with a Heavy Broken Heart that I have lost my Brother/Best Friend Richard Pratt. He was my friend Before our group Blue Magic was ever Formed. Its so hard losing one of the Orginal Blue Magic memebers. My prayers go out to his Wife who called me early this morning. I was trying to be strong for her. Please keep us all in your prayers. May Richard Sleep well in Paradise.

    While not the most flamboyant member of the iconic Philly group, Pratt was a key to the act’s success, helping to make Blue Magic one of the truly great vocal acts of the 1970s, and Philadelphia soul royalty.

    We received sad news this morning via a post from legendary Blue Magic singer, Ted “Wizard” Mills, that Blue Magic co-founder Richard Pratt has died.

    It is with a Heavy Broken Heart that I have lost my Brother/Best Friend Richard Pratt. He was my friend Before our group Blue Magic was ever Formed. Its so hard losing one of the Orginal Blue Magic memebers. My prayers go out to his Wife who called me early this morning. I was trying to be strong for her. Please keep us all in your prayers. May Richard Sleep well in Paradise.

    While not the most flamboyant member of the iconic Philly group, Pratt was a key to the act’s success, helping to make Blue Magic one of the truly great vocal acts of the 1970s, and Philadelphia soul royalty.

    Formed by Temple University student Ted 'Wizard' Mills, with some friends, the group scored an early hit with Mills' composition "Spell." When the other members who participated in the recording balked at touring, Mills merged with local band Shades of Love (Pratt, along with Vernon Sawyer, Wendell Sawyer, and Keith 'Duke' Beaton) to form the nucleus of Blue Magic that would top the charts for years to come.

    Signed to Atlantic Records in 1973, the group came out with several hit singles on the way to creating a debut album.  Blue Magic became one of the earliest acts produced by veteran Philly guitarist Norman Harris, who spent most of the decade in the shadow of Gamble & Huff but who masterminded a number of great albums for artists from the Trammps to the Temptations.  

    Blue Magic's debut album included a number of quality tunes, perhaps the most surprising of which was "Look Me Up," an infectious stepper highlighted by Mills' clear falsetto, and which created early comparisons with the Stylistics.  But real crossover success came with "Sideshow," a now classic Philly forlorn ballad that topped the Soul charts and made the Pop top 10.  The rather contrived follow-up, "Three Ring Circus," was musically another solid ballad that did well despite its obvious attempt to mimic "Sideshow" (even beginning with the same carnival barker).  Over the next three years Blue Magic became know mostly for smooth ballads, and the group stayed high on the Soul charts with "Stop to Start" and "Chasing Rainbows" before landing a big hit with the dance tune "Magic of the Blue."

    Blue Magic's fortunes faded as the 70s came to an end, and Pratt left in the early 80s. And over the past twenty years, Blue Magic splintered into multiple groups each led by one or more original members, with Pratt fronting his own version of the group, Richard Pratt Blue Magic. The five members of Blue Magic reunited in 2018 for an episode of TV One's music biography show, Unsung. It was the first time they had all been together in nearly three decades, and they mulled over the possibility of a full reunion, though that has not materialized.

    We will be praying for Mr. Pratt’s family, even as we celebrate the half century of musical greatness he brought.

    By Chris Rizik

     
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