b. Paul Williams, 1st December 1934, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A
d. 24th April 2016, Blackwood, New Jersey, U.S.A.
Billy Paul was born Paul Williams on the 1st December 1934, in North Philadelphia.
He began showing a talent for singing at a very early age, occasionally appearing on local radio before he reached his teens.
His families musical influences were rooted in Jazz & R&B, shaping the artistic direction that Billy was to follow.
Billy attended Temple University, West Philadelphia Music School.
He later attended the Granoff School of Music, who specialised in vocal coaching.
Billy began to perform locally in Philadelphia, resulting in concert appearances alongside the likes of Charlie Parker, Dinah Washington, Nina Simone, Miles Davis, The Impressions, Sammy Davis, Jr. and Roberta Flack.
He formed a trio and began his recording career, releasing ‘Why Am I’ for the Jubilee Records imprint.
Billy was then drafted into the Services.
When he was discharged, he joined the New Dawn imprint, and stood in for one of the Blue Notes (with Harold Melvin).
feelin' good at the cadillac club - 1968 / ebony woman - 1970
In 1968 he had relocated to the Gamble Records imprint, and released his first Philly album, ‘Feeling Good at the Cadillac Club’.
The following year he released a single from the album entitled 'Bluesette' b/w 'Somewhere'.
going east - 1971 / 360 degrees of billy paul - 1972 / war of the gods - 1973 / live in europe - 1974
in 1971, Billy released the album ‘Going East’, his first full album release on the Philadelphia International Records label.
In 1972, the album ’360 Degrees Of Billy Paul’, featured the massive hit single ‘Me and Mrs. Jones’, which became a No. 1 hit for the last three weeks of that year.
‘Me & mrs Jones’ sold two million copies (achieved platinum single status), and went on to win a Grammy Award.
The single entered the Top 20 of the UK Singles Chart reaching number 12 in early 1973, in turn becoming a song heavily covered by artists all over the world.
Later in 1973, Billy released the album ‘War Of The Gods’, which featured another R&B top ten hit, namely, ‘Thanks For Saving My Life’.
got my head on straight - 1975 / when love is new - 1975 / let em in - 1976 / only the strong survive - 1977
He released a live album in 1974, which was followed by ‘Got My Head On Straight’ in early 1975.
Later in 1975, he released the album ‘When Love Is New’, which contained another Soul evergreen in the form of ‘Let’s Make A Baby’, with the jazz flavoured ‘Malorie’ garnering interest in Soul circles.
In 1976, the album ‘Let Em In’ featured the title track cover version of the Paul McCartney and Wings song, and the mid-tempo ‘I Think I’ll Stay Home Today’.
1977 saw the release of ‘Only The Strong Survive’, which was followed in 1979 by the album ‘First Class’.
first class - 1979 / lately - 1985
The latter album featured the soul Weekender evergreen ‘Bring The Family Back’.
Following this album release, and the release of another live set, Billy left Philadelphia International, and relocated to the Total Experience imprint.
wide open - 1988 / live in paris - 2002
In 1985 he released the album ‘Lately’, before another label move to the Ichiban imprint for ‘Wide Open’ in 1988.
Billy then announced his retirement in London in 1989.
In 2011 he participated in the album of French singer Chimène Badi by recording a duet with her "Ain't No Mountain High Enough”.
In addition to receiving his Grammy, Billy has won several Ebby awards (by the readers of Ebony Magazine) and the NAACP Image Award.
He had also toured internationally in the U.K., and Latin America.
Billy passed away on the 24th of April 2016 at his home in Blackwood, New Jersey.
He had been suffering from pancreatic cancer.
Feelin' Good at the Cadillac Club (Gamble Records 1968)
Ebony Woman (Neptune Records 1970)
Going East (Philadelphia International Records 1971)
360 Degrees Of Billy Paul (Philadelphia International Records 1972)
Feelin' Good At The Cadillac Club (Philadelphia International Records 1973)
War Of The Gods (Philadelphia International Records 1973)
Live In Europe (Philadelphia International Records 1974)
Got My Head On Straight (Philadelphia International Records 1975)
When Love Is New (Philadelphia International Records 1975)
Let Em In (Philadelphia International Records 1977)
Only The Strong Survive (Philadelphia International Records 1978)
First Class (Philadelphia International Records 1979)
Lately (Total Experience Records 1985)
Wide Open (Ichiban Records 1988)
Billy Paul Live in Paris (Warner Brothers Records 2002)