'Me and Mrs. Jones' singer Billy Paul dies in New Jersey

Mon Apr 25, 2016 11:48am EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Suzannah Gonzales

(Reuters) - Grammy-winning American soul singer Billy Paul, known for his 1972 No. 1 single "Me and Mrs. Jones," has died at the age of 81 after suffering from pancreatic cancer, according to his wife and website.

He died on Sunday at his home in Blackwood, New Jersey, where he lived for 35 years.

"He will be deeply missed forever," Blanche Williams, Paul's wife of 50 years, told Reuters on Monday. "He had a long career of 65 years, and he touched the lives of his fans and friends all over the world."

Paul, born and raised in north Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was among those connected with the unique Philadelphia soul sound and credited with socially conscious 1960s era civil rights music, his website said.

He began his singing career at age 11 and attended local music schools in Philadelphia, the website said. When he was 16, he played at a local club on the same bill as Charlie Parker, who died later that year.

Paul's growing popularity led to concerts with Dinah Washington, Nina Simone, Miles Davis, Sammy Davis Jr. and Roberta Flack, the website said.

He changed his name in the early 1960s from Paul Williams to Billy Paul to avoid confusion with other musicians, his wife said.

Paul was drafted and served in the U.S. Army in 1957 with Elvis Presley, Bing Crosby's son Gary Crosby and other musicians, the website said. Paul and Crosby started a jazz band together and asked Presley to join them, but he said he wanted to take a break from music and work as a jeep driver, according to Paul's website.   Continued...