Philly soul singer, composer, and producer Gene McFadden remains best known for the smash "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now," the disco-era classic he recorded with longtime collaborator John Whitehead. Born in 1946, McFadden grew up in the same impoverished Philadelphia neighborhood as Whitehead. While in high school, they formed the Epsilons with Whitehead's cousin Ronald Lowry (later a member of Frankie Beverley's Maze) and Allen Beatty, and in 1966, Otis Redding saw the group perform and hired them as his backing vocalists. The Epsilons also backed Arthur Conley on his classic "Sweet Soul Music," but following Redding's tragic death the group's fortunes waned, and after the 1968 Stax single "The Echo" they dissolved. McFadden and Whitehead returned to Philadelphia, forming Talk of the Town with James Knight and Lloyd Parks. Two singles, "Little Bit of Your Lovin'" and "Don't Be So Mean," appeared on North Bay in 1971; neither was a hit, and Whitehead went to work in the mailroom of the fledgling Philadelphia International Records. He and McFadden also began writing songs, eventually convincing Philadelphia International bosses Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff to listen to their composition "Back Stabbers." Recorded by the O'Jays in 1972, "Back Stabbers" would prove the label's first gold record and a landmark in the evolution of Philly soul.
As writers and producers, McFadden and Whitehead would go on to score 22 gold records, two platinum albums, and two Grammy nominations over the next six years. In addition to the O'Jays' follow-up smash "For the Love of Money," their hits included Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes' "Wake Up Everybody" and "Where Are All My Friends," along with Archie Bell & the Drells' "Don't Let Love Get You Down." The duo also revived their Talk of the Town project, releasing the singles "Super Groover (All Night Mover)," "Bumpin' Boogie," and "I Apologize" on the Philadelphia International spinoffs Gamble and TSOP. In 1978 they returned to the studio as simply McFadden & Whitehead, recording "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now" in one take. Whitehead even made up most of the lyrics on the spot. The single was a global blockbuster, topping the Billboard R&B charts and later becoming a Philadelphia sports anthem, but the duo proved unable to generate a successful follow-up, with "I Heard It in a Love Song" and "I've Been Pushed Aside" barely scraping the charts. After 1982's Movin' On, McFadden & Whitehead went their separate ways, reuniting in the 1990s to perform at corporate events and disco nostalgia shows. On May 11, 2004, Whitehead was shot to death while repairing his car on a Philadelphia street. The killing remains unsolved, and reportedly took an extreme toll on McFadden, who was already battling the liver and lung cancer that claimed his life on January 27, 2006. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi