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Miami Valley Music Focus explores the places and people behind the music of Southwest, Ohio.

Ohio Rocks! Hit songs from legendary Ohioans - 'P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing')

Akron born (and raised) singer James Ingram had an impressive number of hits. Just Once. One Hundred Ways. Baby, Come To Me. How Do You Keep The Music Playing? I Don’t Have The Heart. Somewhere Out There. His legacy is set. But…his biggest hit is the one he co-wrote for someone else.

Ingram co-wrote, along with Quincy Jones and Greg Phillinganes, the hit single P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)for Michael Jackson. The song is from Jackson’s super massive and most successful album, Thriller. Ingram ‘completed’ the song after Jones and Phillinganes worked on an earlier version of the cut. 

Ingram left Ohio and moved to Los Angeles after high school. He played in several bands before landing on Quincy Jones’ radar in 1981. From then, Ingram had several big hits, including two that reached number one on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart, Baby, Come To Me, and I Don’t Have The Heart. Those are both amazing accomplishments. But, culturally, they don’t move the meter like Michael Jackson’s P.Y.T. P.Y.T. reached number ten on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Not as high as Ingram’s solo hits. But, having a song attached to the rocket ride that was Thriller is a huge deal. P.Y.T. is still one of Jackson’s most popular songs.

James Ingram died in 2019 of brain cancer. He was 66 years old. He left behind a fantastic legacy of classic hits and compositions for himself and others. He also represented Akron and Ohio to the fullest, and that deserves an ovation.

Miami Valley Music Focus explores the places and people behind the music of Southwest, Ohio. This series is made possible by support from Ohio Arts Council.

Greg Simms Jr. is a veteran content creator and cultural expert who's worked for numerous digital publications over the years. He's a resident of Greene County, but he's always aware of social-cultural events happening all over the Miami Valley. To contact Greg, email him at: grgsmmsjr@gmail.com