‘Me & Mrs. Jones’ Singer Billy Paul Dead at 80
Soul man Billy Paul has died, aged 80.
The “Me & Mrs. Jones” singer passed away on Sunday, according to a message posted on his website.
The statement reads: “We regret to announce with a heavy heart that Billy has passed away today at home after a serious medical condition.
“We would like to extend our most sincere condolences to his wife Blanche and family for their loss, as they and the world grieves the loss of another musical icon… Billy will be truly missed.”
Paul’s manager, Beverly Gay, has confirmed the news, telling outlets the singer died at his home in New Jersey a week after he was diagnosed with cancer.
Born Paul Williams, he first hit the stages of his native Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in his teens and once shared a bill with jazz great Charlie Parker, who became a mentor just before he died.
Using the advice the musician gave him, Paul embarked on a career as a recording artist after serving in the U.S. Army alongside Elvis Presley. He released his debut album, Feelin’ Good at the Cadillac Club, in 1968, on legendary producer Kenny Gamble’s Gamble Records label, but he really found success in 1972 with the release of his hit about an affair with a married woman. The track, which was written by Gamble and his songwriting partner Leon Huff, became a Billboard Hot 100 number one and earned Gamble and Huff a Grammy Award.
Billy Paul, one of the first stars of the Philly Sound movement, released 15 albums between 1968 and 1988. Gamble once called him a “prophet” and “the instrument of the gods.”
He turned 80 in January and was thrilled to receive a telegram from fan President Barack Obama.
A post on his website read: “Billy just received Birthday wishes on his 80th birthday from President Obama. The President also acknowledged his decades long contribution to music. The president and Michele Obama wished him all the best in the coming years. Billy is thrilled!”
As well as “Me & Mrs. Jones,” Paul also found success with his cover of Paul McCartney and Wings’ “Let ‘Em In” and the provocative “Am I Black Enough For You?”