Jo-Jo Tynes dies, stage manager for Teddy Pendergrass, O'Jays, 3 Degrees

Posted: March 06, 2013

JO-JO TYNES would go into a nightclub, toss back a Mistic fruit drink or just plain water and hit the dance floor.

"He loved to have fun," said his fiancee, Kim Oliver. "Everybody loved him. He'd go into a club and people would say, 'Here's Jo-Jo!' He loved people. He loved to dance."

Joseph Tynes, known to everybody as Jo-Jo, worked with a number of musicians and musical groups as stage manager and general factotum, including Teddy Pendergrass, the O'Jays and the Three Degrees, traveling around the country and overseas.

His last dance was Sunday night, when he went to a local tavern. He had a dizzy spell on the dance floor and collapsed. He was taken to a hospital, where he died. He was 71 and lived in West Philadelphia.

Jo-Jo got a shock in April 1977 when a woman was shot to death in front of him. He had driven the woman, Taazmayia "Taaz" Lang, Teddy Pendergrass' manager, to her home in Mount Airy the night of April 14.

Jo-Jo was getting something out of the car's trunk and Taaz was taking out her house keys when someone who had been hiding in bushes shot her. The bullet killed her instantly. The crime was never solved.

"The police questioned Jo-Jo, but he was as baffled as everybody over what had happened," Kim said. "It always bothered him."

Pendergrass, an R&B superstar, was paralyzed in a car crash in March 1982.

Jo-Jo left Pendergrass' Teddy Bear Productions shortly after the shooting. It was then that Jo-Jo became involved with the Three Degrees, an all-girl trio formed in Philadelphia that was popular in the '60s and '70s.

They had gigs in Europe and Japan, and Jo-Jo got to do a lot of traveling in the late '70s.

After a few years with the Three Degrees, he met up with the O'Jays, a Canton, Ohio, R&B group that came to Philadelphia to record with the Philadelphia International label of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff.

It was where Jo-Jo met the group and began working with it through its numerous hits, many of them recorded in Philly, and on stage shows.

Jo-Jo was born in Baltimore to Louis Tynes and Juanita Gaines. He came to Philadelphia in his teens and began hanging out with entertainers at local clubs.

He met Sammy Davis Jr. that way. Davis offered him a job, but Jo-Jo thought he was kidding and blew him off. When Sammy hired another man for the job, Jo-Jo realized the singer hadn't been kidding.

"He said it was the worst mistake he ever made," Kim said.

"He was a fun guy," she said, "always dressed to the nines, with his Louis Vuitton briefcase. He loved being with people. He didn't like being at home. He loved to sit around and tell jokes.

"He didn't drink or smoke and was always fit."

However, he first had dizzy spells in 1980 and was hospitalized. He received a stent in his heart and was fine after that, Kim said.

Besides Kim Oliver, he had no immediate survivors.

Services: 11 a.m. Saturday at Triumph Baptist Church, 1648 W. Hunting Park Ave. Friends may call at 9 a.m. Burial will be in West Laurel Hill Cemetery, Bala Cynwyd.

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