Soul Singer Billy Paul is Dead at age 81
By Kai EL’ Zabar
Known best for the all time favorite, “Me and Mrs. Jones,” vocalist Billy Pul has passed making his transition according to his website, at his home in Blackwood, New Jersey after suffering with a serious medical condition. According to reports he was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and was hospitalized last week at Temple University Hospital. He died Sunday at his home in Blackwood, New Jersey, according to Gay.
Born Paul Williams, December 1, 1934 in Philadelphia, Paul began his music career at the age of 11 when he appeared on local radio station WPEN. He also attended the West Philadelphia Music School and the Granoff School of Music where he received his vocal training.
On Sunday the website message read: “We regret to announce with a heavy heart that Billy has passed away today at home after a serious medical condition.”
The statement also encourages his fans to share their thoughts, messages and stories regarding the singer on the post.
His 1972 hit Me And Mrs Jones, earned him a Grammy Award in the Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male category. It remained No. 1 hit for the last three weeks of 1972 as it sold two million copies, which is platinum single status.
Me And Mrs Jones also received newfound attention decades later when singer Michael Buble released a cover version in 2007.
In all, Paul released 15 albums (not counting a 1973 reissue of “Feelin’ Good at the Cadillac Club”) between 1968 and 1988. While he never again matched the mainstream success of Me and Mrs. Jones, he is recognized by many as a pioneer and important figure in soul music, known for his socially conscious lyrics.
Paul is considered by some as ‘a socially conscious post-revolution ’60s civil rights music artist.
Paul was also inducted into the Philadelphia Walk of Fame in 2008.
A career in R & B came after he made his name in the music scene playing at jazz clubs alongside the likes of Charlie Parker, Nina Simone and even Miles Davis.
He released his first of 16 albums, Feelin’ Good At The Cadillac Club in 1968, War of the Gods was released in 1973, and finished out his recording career twenty years later with Wide Open in 1988.
Sunday night, Gamble and Huff released a statement on Paul’s death:
“We are very saddened to learn of the sudden death of our good friend and Philadelphia International Records recording artist Billy Paul. From the time we saw Billy performing live, and then signing him to our PIR/TSOP label, we immediately realized that we had discovered and launched one the most unique voices in the music industry. Billy’s voice combined both Jazz, R&B and Soul vocals, making him one the great artists to come out of Philly and to be celebrated worldwide. Our proudest moment with Billy was the recording of the salacious smash ‘Me and Mrs. Jones.’ In our view, it is one of the greatest love songs ever recorded. Billy was one of the first artists to help launch the PIR/TSOP brand, and he will forever have a special place in music history.”
“We send our very sincere and personal condolences to his wife Blanche and the rest of his family. Billy Paul will truly be missed.”