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Today in Philly Sports History: “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now” Tops the R&B Charts, 1979

Jun 2, 2009, 10:49 AM EDT

Gene McFadden and John Whitehead were a couple of Philly Soul guys who made their bones touring with Otis Redding in the 60s as part of a group called The Epsilons, and in the 70s wrote a string of classic hits for the genre's leading lights (The O'Jays' "Back Stabbers," The Intruders' "I'll Always Love My Mama," Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes' "Wake Up Everybody"). They neglected to record anything on their own, however, until 1977, when they officially formed as McFadden and Whitehead. Two years later, they released "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now," a string-heavy disco number that ended up being a nationwide smash, selling over two million copies, and on June 2nd of 1979, reaching the pole position on the Billboard R&B charts, unseating The Isley Brothers' "I Wanna Be With You (Part One)."

Apart from being a fine example of the sweet soul music that made our fair city one of the pop music hubs of the Me Decade, McFadden and Whitehead's signature song has also earned an important spot in Philly Sports history by virtue of becoming a PA mainstay among the city's sports teams for its affirmative message and unceasing optimism. The song was chosen as the semi-official anthem of the World Series-winning 1980 Phillies, and the duo even performed the song live during the Sixers 2001 playoff run, and then again a year later when Philly hosted the 2002 NBA All-Star Game.

More notably, the two were passionate enough (and/or desperate for further exposure enough) about the city's sports teams that they re-recorded "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now" several times, with lyrics relevant to contemporary Philly teams with championship aspirations. The '80 Phillies version ("I know they've had so many miseries / But they'll end up winning the World Series") has probably dated the best, due to them being the only team given such a treatment that actually came home with a title, but the unfulfilled '80-'81 Eagles version ("I know they've got so many yards to go / But where they'll end up–the Super Bowl") wasn't without its charms either. Allegedly one also exists for one also exists for the turn-of-the-millennium Sixers, but since I can't find a link to that one, I'll just guess "I know they've put their fans through everything / But they'll be bringing home a championship ring."

McFadden and Whitehead never had another hit on their own, but "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now" lived on, being ranked by VH1 as the 38th greatest dance song of all-time, appearing in the movie Boogie Nights, and getting covered by Luther Vandross and the recently-late baller/musician Wayman Tisdale, among others. Unfortunately, those waiting for the duo to re-record versions of their signature hit for the Philadelphia Union or the Philadelphia Passion will inevitably be disappointed, as both members passed away earlier this decade–McFadden getting fatally shot in a still-unsolved murder in 2004, and Whitehead dying of liver and lung cancer two years later.