Monday, April 25, 2016

RIP Billy Paul

From rock historian Ron Smith...

Billy Paul, the Philadelphia soul singer who took “Me And Mrs. Jones” to #1 in 1972, died Sunday at a hospital in his home town just one week after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He was 81. Born Paul Williams, he began his career at the age of 11 singing on a local radio station. From the West Philadelphia Music School, he graduated to the Granoff School of Music. Soon he was performing as the opening act for some of the biggest acts in music under his new name. In 1952 he recorded his first singles, but his early career took a detour when he was drafted by the Army, where he served with Elvis Presley in Germany. Upon his release he continued to record (mostly jazz) to little success. It was in 1968, though, that he met producer Kenny Gamble. Signed to the fledgling Gamble label, he also recorded for Kenny (now with co-producer Leon Huff) on their Neptune label. But success was still elusive until the producers formed Philadelphia International, which was distributed by CBS. “Me And Mrs. Jones” became his only gold record and won Billy a Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance. But it proved to be his only top 40 hit, due mainly to controversial follow-up records like “Am I Black Enough For You” and “Let’s Make A Baby.” He did appear 12 more times on the R&B charts, but “Thanks For Saving My Life” (#9-1974) was his only other appearance in the R&B top ten. Billy officially “retired” in 1989 but continued to perform in concert and even released a live album in 2000.

Wrote a parody of this song during the Paula Jones controversy. Kind of a no-brainer.