Billy Paul Dead at 81
Philadelphia soul singer Billy Paul passed away at his home in Blackwood, N.J., on Sunday (April 24). He was 81.
The singer’s manager, Beverly Gay, told NBC10 Philadelphia that Paul was diagnosed with cancer and was hospitalized last week at Temple University.
A statement on Paul's official website 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 that helped pioneered todays R&B music. Billy will be truly missed. Please share your thoughts, messages and stories of Billy as we remember this legendary artist, family member and friend."
Born on Dec. 1, 1934 in Philadelphia, Paul, whose real name Paul Williams, is widely known for his Grammy-winning 1972 song "Me and Mrs. Jones," which was written and produced by legendary tunesmiths Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff.
During his 20-year career (1968-1988), Paul released over 15 albums, although he never quite match the chart-topping success of "Me and Mrs. Jones."
"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," said Gamble & Huff in a statement. "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."
On Sunday, Questlove of the Roots, who compares Paul to Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder, paid a tribute to the late soul crooner on his Instagram account.
"The Amazing Velvet Voiced Singer there ever was. He even made extra marital affairs sound awesome 'Me & Mrs Jones,'" he wrote alongside a photo of Paul. "Through Dilla most of us learned to keep the Dollar Circulating. But man Billy Paul was the SPIRIT of The Sound Of Philadelphia. The most political voice in the PIR cannon."
"No one has that velvet texture. Man....this is a sad year for my record collection. BillyPaulRIP," he concluded.
We want to send our heartfelt condolences to Billy Paul's family and friends. May he rest in peace.