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Black Arts and Culture

Passes: Singer Billy Paul ‘Me And Mrs. Jones’

Billy Paul
NEW JERSEY
Billy Paul, best known for the No. 1 hit “Me and Mrs. Jones,” died April 24 at age 80. Paul, whose career spanned more than 60 years, died at his home in Blackwood, N.J., his co-manager, Beverly Gay, said in news reports. Paul, 80, had been diagnosed recently with pancreatic cancer and was hospitalized a week before his death.

Born Paul Williams, Paul was one of many singers who found success with the writing and producing team of Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff, a Philadelphia-based record company that also released music by the O’Jays, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, and Lou Rawls. “Me and Mrs. Jones” was a No. one hit for the last three weeks of 1972 and won Paul a Grammy for best rhythm ‘n blues male vocal performance.

The song was one of the top singles of 1972 and brought Paul a Grammy the following year for best male rhythm and blues performance, with runners-up including Ray Charles and Curtis Mayfield. Paul remained identified with the song for the rest of his life. Paul’s subsequent songs met with more difficulties. Eventually, Paul sued Gamble and Huff and other industry officials over unpaid royalties and was awarded $500,000 by a Los Angeles jury in 2003. On Jan. 19, Paul received birthday wishes from President Barack Obama.

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