We’ve lost another great one. Philadelphia soul singer Billy Paul died at the age of 81 Sunday morning, according to his manager.
Manager Beverly Gay told NBC10 that Paul, born Paul Williams, was diagnosed with cancer and was hospitalized last week at Temple University Hospital. He died Sunday at his home in Blackwood, New Jersey, according to Gay.
Born 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.
Early in his career, Paul first burst onto the music scene playing in jazz clubs alongside such music icons as Charlie Parker, Nina Simone and Miles Davis. After serving in the Army, where he was stationed with Elvis Presley, Paul released his debut album “Feelin’ Good at the Cadillac Club” in 1968 on legendary producer and Philly soul pioneer Kenny Gamble’s Gamble Records label.
Paul gained his greatest success when he released his 1972 single “Me and Mrs. Jones,” which was written and produced by Philadelphia legendary hit makers, Gamble and Huff. The song was the number one single on the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B singles chart and received a Grammy Award. The song also received newfound attention decades later when singer Michael Buble released a cover version in 2007.
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…