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27 Feb 2010

S. Phila. man charged with setting Phila. Int’l Records fire

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February 27, 2010 Category: Local Posted by:

By Kathy Matheson

Associated Press /KYW

ABOVE PHOTO: The Philadelphia International Records building on South Broad Street after the three alarm fire which started on the third floor.

Photo by Bill Z. Foster


A South Philadelphia man has been charged with arson, burglary and related offenses for last Sunday morning fire at a famous center city record company.


Police say 27-year-old Chris Cimini was accompanied by his lawyer last Wednesday when he turned himself in.


Police captain John Gallagher says Cimini was drunk and not aware of his surroundings when he broke into Philadelphia International Records and allegedly set fire to some t-shirts and cds inside a 3rd floor closet.


“We do not believe it was accidental even though we are describing the situation that he did not intend to be there.”


Co-founder of Philadelphia International Records, Leon Huff, says he is glad to hear about the arrest and is confident justice will be served.


“You know we’ve been working in that building for 40 years so we are going to come back stronger and better.”


Grammy-winning songwriter Kenneth Gamble says he and partner Leon Huff will rebound from the fire that ruined their music company offices in Philadelphia.


Gamble said last Wednesday that the building housing Philadelphia International Records holds many memories, including recording sessions with Michael Jackson and Teddy Pendergrass.


Executive vice president Chuck Gamble, nephew of Kenny, says the fire started at about 7am on last Sunday morning and was confined to the third floor offices.


While the damage was extensive, it didn’t destroy any of their most valuable belongings:


“Our tapes — 10,000 original recordings — are stored underground in a vault secretly somewhere, so that’s out.”


Some of the leading names in 70’s soul and pop music recorded some or all of their hits at the building just a few blocks from Philadelphia’s City Hall: Michael Jackson, Pattie Labelle, The O’Jays, Archie Bell and the Drells, Billy Paul, Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes, Three Degrees, Jerry Butler, McFadden & Whitehead, Stylistics, Teddy Pendergrass and The Trammps. Gamble and Huff are credited with producing the lush acoustics of 1970s R&B music that came to be known as the “Sound of Philadelphia.” Their songs include “Love Train,” “Me and Mrs. Jones” and “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now.”


Huff is running his business temporarily out of a nearby hotel until repairs are made.

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