Sad news from the R&B community. Richard Pratt, a founding member of the iconic 1970s R&B group Blue Magic, has died. Lead singer Ted Mills broke the news via a Facebook post. Pratt was key to the vocal quintet’s success and made Blue Magic one of the most popular acts of the 1970s. Formed by Temple University student Ted Mills, with some friends, the group scored an early hit with Mills’ composition “Spell.” When the members who participated in the recording balked at touring, Mills merged with local group Shades Of Love (Pratt, along with Wendall Sawyer, Vernon Sawyer and Keith “Duke” Beaton) to form what would become the group Blue Magic. Signed to Atlantic Records in 1973, the group released several singles on the way to a debut album. Blue Magic became one of the earliest acts produced by guitarist Norman Harris, who spent most of the decade in the shadow of songwriters/producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff but who went on to produce albums for The Tramps and The Temptations. Blue Magic’s debut album included some quality material, perhaps most surprising of which was “Look Me Up”, an infectious stepper highlighted by Mills’ clear falsetto, which drew comparisons to The Stylistics. However, crossover success came with the single “Sideshow”, a now classic Philly forlorn ballad that topped the Soul charts and made the Pop top ten. The rather contrived follow up, “Three Ring Circus”, was musically another solid ballad that did well despite its obvious attempt to mimic “Sideshow.” Over the next three years Blue Magic became known primarily for ballads, and the group stayed on the Soul charts with the singles “Stop To Start” and “Chasing Rainbows” before landing a hit with the uptempo dance number “Magic Of The Blue.” Blue Magic’s fortunes faded at the end of the 1970s, and Pratt left in the early 1980s. Over the past twenty years Blue Magic splintered into multiple groups each one lead by one or more original members, with Pratt fronting his own group, Richard Pratt Blue Magic. The original members of Blue Magic reunited in 2018 for an episode of the TV One music documentary series Unsung. It was the first time they had all been together in three decades, and they mulled over the possibility of a full reunion, though that has not materialized. Richard Pratt has left a legacy that will last a lifetime. May he rest in peace.