Teddy Pendergrass was born to Ida Geraldine Epps and the late Jesse Pendergrass (murdered in 1962), who left when Pendergrass was very young and was not a part of his life. He was a student at the old Thomas Edison High School for Boys. However, he dropped out in the 11th grade to go into the music business. According to author Robert Ewell Greene, Teddy Pendergrass was ordained a minister as a youngster. Later he was to become a drummer for a band, and later lead singer. The church was his initiation for talent and eventual success.