Billy Paul Dead at 81: 5 Things to Know about the Legendary Soul Singer
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Billy Paul
Credits: Instagram/questlove

As the world is yet to restore itself from the demise of Prince last week, it’s sad to find out that soul music maestro Billy Paul has passed away. The legendary soul singer Billy Paul died on Sunday (April 24) at the age of 81. For those who don’t know, Billy Paul was the American soul singer who had the number one hit of 1972 called “Me and Mrs. Jones.”

How Did Billy Paul Die?

It’s been reported that Billy Paul (born Paul Williams) died on the afternoon of April 24 at his home in the Blackwood neighborhood of New Jersey. The cause o f Billy Paul’s death has been stated as pancreatic cancer. Billy Paul’s age was 81 at the time of his death, and the singer had retired from producing soul music in 1989.

5 Things To Know about Billy Paul

The Hit Song, “Me and Mrs. Jones”

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From Billy Paul’s 1972 LP 360 Degrees of Billy Paul, the single “Me and Mrs. Jones” become a nationwide sensation. After getting applauded by critics and being a commercial hit, the song made Billy Paul a soul music legend. It sold over two million copies within three weeks and peaked at number one on all music charts across the world. This song also marked as the first number one hit by Philadelphia International Records, Billy Paul’s record label.

Part of Philadelphia Soul

It’s an important thing to know Billy Paul’s notable contribution to soul music. Billy Paul was one the main artists associated with the Philadelphia soul sound, which was created by Thom Bell, Leon Huff, and Kenny Gamble. Questlove from the band The Roots credits Paul as “one of the criminally unmentioned proprietors of socially conscious post-revolution ‘60s civil rights music.”

“Am I Black Enough” Controversy

After the superb success of “Me and Mrs. Jones,” Billy Paul’s next single from his 1972 LP made news but for other reasons. The song’s “Black Power” message became controversial, thus failing to give Paul a follow-up hit. In a 1977 interview, Paul regretted his decision to release the track by saying that “people weren’t ready for that kind of song after the pop success of ‘Mrs. Jones’.”

Paul’s Grammy Wins

“Me and Mrs. Jones” won Paul his first Grammy Award in 1973. Paul recalls his Grammy win saying, “The most sobering thing to have a number one record across the whole entire world [is a] masterpiece.” Paul won despite being up against the likes of graets liek Ray Charles, Curtis Mayfield, and Isaac Hayes.

“Me and Mrs. Jones” Lawsuit

Paul had sued sporting brand giant Nike for unauthorized use of his song, “Me and Mrs. Jones,” in one of its commercials in 2000. Paul’s lawsuit sought $1.0 million from Nike over charges of non-licensing and permission of use.

Check out Billy Paul’s “Me and Mrs. Jones” video:

 
 
 
 

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