walter williams, william powell (center) and eddie levert
The O'Jays comprised of:
Eddie LeVert (b. Edward 'Eddie' LeVert, 16th June 1942, Bessemer, Alabama, U.S.A.)
Walter Williams (b. Walter Williams Snr., 25th August 1943, Canton, Ohio, U.S.A.)
William Powell - baritone (William Powell Jnr., b. 20th January 1942, Canton, Ohio, U.S.A. d. 26th May 1977, Canton Memorial Hospital, Canton, Ohio, U.S.A.)
Bill Isles (b. 1940, Canton, Ohio, U.S.A. - departed group 1965)
Bobby Massey (c. 1942, Canton, Ohio, U.S.A. - departed group 1972)
Nathaniel Best (joined circa 1992)
Eric Nolan Grant (joined circa 1995)
Sammy Strain (b. 9th December 1941, U.S.A. - joined group 1976 - departed group 1992)
The O'Jays are a group, originally formed in Canton, Ohio, U.S.A.
The ensemble was created out as a quintet of vocalists, later becoming a three man group during their most famous recording period, in the mid 1970's at Philadelphia International Records.
The original lineup included Walter Williams, Bill Isles, Bobby Massey, William Powell and Eddie Levert, becoming a threesome following the departure of Bill Isles and Bobby Massey from the group during the late Sixties.
The group members attended Canton McKinley High School in the late Fifties, singing under the name of the Triumphs.
They changed their name later to the Mascots in 1960, changing their name again to the O'Jays in 1963, a tribute to the local Cleveland Radio Disc Jockey, Eddie O'Jay.
lonely rain - 1960 / the story of my heart - 1960
As the Mascots, they released two singles entitled 'Story Of My Heart' b/w 'Do The Wiggle' and 'Lonely Rain' b/w 'That's The Way I Feel', which became a minor local hits in 1960, (the songs issued on the local King label).
The O'Jays recorded one side for the Little Star imprint ('Love Is Wonderful') in 1963 under the group name of Jimmy Norman and the O'Jays, before becoming known as the O'Jays and signing to Imperial Records the same year.
lonely drifter - 1963 / i'll never let you go - 1965 / i dig your act - 1967 / look over your shoulder - 1968
The group recorded 13 singles for Imperial Records between 1963 and 1966, before moving on to Bell (5 singles), Minit ('Working On Your Case'), Neptune (6 singles including 'Christmas Ain't Christmas, New Year's Ain't New Year's, Without The One You Love' in 1970), Saru ('Shattered Man') and Little Star (for a second time, releasing 'Now He's Home').
comin' through - 1965 / soul sounds - 1967 / the o'jays - 1967 / full of soul - 1968
Their debut LP in 1965 was entitled 'Comin' Through' for Imperial Records (which contained the singles 'Lipstick Traces' and 'Lonely Drifter', which went on to become a national hit.).
They released the album 'Back On Top' in 1968, with four group members, an album which featured the ballad, 'I'll Be Sweeter Tomorrow'.
back on top - 1968 / the o'jay's in philadelphia - 1969
During the 1960s, they released several singles including 'Stand In For Love', 'Stand Tall', 'Let It All Out', 'I'll Be Sweeter Tomorrow', 'Look Over Your Shoulder', 'Deeper In Love With You' and 'One Night Affair'.
By this time Bill Isles and Bobby Massey had departed the group (Bill Isles in 1965, Bobby Massey in 1971), leaving the group a threesome.
The O'Jays met Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff in 1968, who were then working as a production team for the Neptune label.
The producers/writers took an interest in the group, and recorded several R&B singles with the group.
Neptune folded in 1971, leaving the O'Jays without a label, after which Bobby Massey decided to leave the group.
Gamble & Huff formed their own label, and called the imprint Philadelphia International, recruiting the O'Jays as one of their first acts.
An album was later released entitled 'The O'Jays In Philadelphia', which has a release date of 1969, and featured some of the early Gamble and Huff sessions under their tutelage.
super bad - 1971 / back stabbers - 1972 / ship ahoy - 1973 / live in london - 1974
In 1972, after they had signed to the Philadelphia International imprint, and achieved instant success with their million selling single 'Back Stabbers'.
The parent album produced several more hit singles, including '992 Arguments', 'Sunshine', 'Time To Get Down' along with another huge international hit, 'Love Train'.
The Philadelphia International collaboration became a hugely successful association throughout the Seventies.
The group then released the LP, 'Ship Ahoy', in 1973, which featured one of the groups most popular recordings 'For the Love of Money', along with the song, later covered by the group Third World, entitled 'Now That We Found Love'.
A further 1973 album arrived in the form of a live set recorded in London in December 1973, entitled 'The O'Jays Live In London'.
survival - 1975 / family reunion - 1975 / message in the music - 1976 / travelin' at the speed of thought - 1977
'Survival' and 'Family Reunion' both followed in 1975, the former featuring the songs 'Let Me Make Love to You' and the R&B number one 'Give the People What They Want', the latter becoming the groups landmark release, featuring the socially aware title track, and the enormous Philly dance classics 'I Love Music' and 'Living For The Weekend'.
The following year, the group released the final album featuring contributions from William Powell, namely 'Message In The Music'.
As well as the hugely popular title song, the album also included the mid tempo hit 'Darling, Darling Baby (Sweet Tender Love)'.
Tragedy struck then the group, as William Powell was diagnosed with cancer, during undergoing treatment for injuries sustained in a car accident in 1975,
He continued to record with the group for a year or so, was forced to retire from live performing, and passed away on the 26th of May 1977.
That year, the O'Jays contributed to the Gamble and Huff, Philadelphia Allstars project, participating in the Philly Ghetto project 'Let's Clean Up The Ghetto'.
After William Powell's passing, and the enlisting of Sammy Strain to the ranks, the O'Jays released the albums 'Travelin' at the Speed of Thought' (in 1977, which featured 'We're All In This Thing Together') and 'So Full of Love' (in 1978 and featuring 'Use Ta Be My Girl' and 'Brandy (I Really Miss You)').
so full of love - 1978 / identify yourself - 1979 / the year 2000 - 1980 / my favorite person - 1982
The O'Jays charted many times throughout this period with hit singles including 'Put Your Hands Together' (Pop number 10), 'For the Love of Money' (Pop number 9), 'Give the People What They Want', 'Let Me Make Love To You', 'I Love Music' (Pop number 5), 'Livin' for the Weekend', 'Message in Our Music' and 'Darlin' Darlin' Baby (Sweet Tender Love)'.
Their final top 5 charting single was 'Use ta Be My Girl', however the group consistently achieved huge success on the R&B charts.
By 1979, the group released the album 'Identify Yourself', which was followed by 1980's release 'The Year 2000'.
These albums were less successful, however 1982's release 'My Favorite Person' marked a renaissance in the O'Jays fortunes, especially within Soul circles, featuring the songs 'I Just Want To Satisfy You', 'Out In The Real World', along with the jazz-tinged title track.
when will i see you again - 1983 / love and more - 1984 / love fever - 1985 / let me touch you - 1987
In 1983, the group released the album 'When Will I See You Again', which was notable for the Keni Burke penned dancer 'Put Our Heads Together'.
1984 release 'Love And More' consolidated the O'Jays newer sound, with the songs 'Summer Fling' and 'Extraordinary Girl, both songs hugely popular on the R&B stations.
A year later 'Love Fever' hit the streets and featured the Gamble & Huff penned, 'We're Still Together'.
'Let Me Touch You,' was released in 1987, and featured a number 1 R&B hit entitled 'Lovin' You' and the socially aware 'Still Missing', relating to the plight of lost children.
serious - 1989 / emotionally yours - 1991 / heartbreaker - 1993 / love you to tears - 1997
'Serious' followed in 1989, with a three year wait before 1991's album 'Emotionally Your's' hit the streets.
The same year, the group released a seasonal album entitled 'Home For Christmas', which contained some new songs to compliment the standards on show.
In 1992, Sammy Strain (who had briefly joined the line-up from Little Anthony & The Imperials during 1977) left the group, and rejoined his old group.
He was replaced by Nathaniel Best, and later, by Eric Grant.
In 1993 they released the album 'Heartbreaker' for the Capitol imprint, before a four wait wait until 'Love You To Tears' saw the light of day on Volcano Records.
for the love - 2001 / imagination - 2004 / home for christmas - 1991 / christmas with the o'jays - 2010
As the new Millennium arrived, the O'Jays released the album 'For The Love' in 2001, which was followed by the album 'Imagination' three years later.
The O'Jays continued to tour through this period, although the album successes were mainly confined to the R&B listings.
the fighting temptations - 2003
In 2003, they co-starred in the movie 'The Fighting Temptations', A Cuba Gooding Jr. and Beyonce Knowles movie vehicle, playing three barbers who joined the local church choir.
The O'Jays were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2004, and The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005.
Original members Eddie Levert, Walter Williams, Bobby Massey and, posthumously, William Powell, were inducted.
In 2006, the O'Jays performed at the ESPY awards, hosted by Lance Armstrong.
On June 28, 2009, at the 2009 BET Award Show in the Shrine Auditorium the O'Jays were honored with BET's 2009 Life Time Achievement Award.
A second album of festive material was released in 2010, entitled 'Christmas With The O'Jays' for the Saguaro Road Records imprint.
Walter Williams is currently battling multiple sclerosis (which he has been combating for the past 27 years), however, still leads a normal life and is recording solo material in 2010.
Comin' Through (Imperial Records 1965)
Soul Sounds (Imperial Records 1967)
O'Jays (Minit Records 1967)
Full Of Soul (Sunset Records 1968)
Back On Top (Bell Records 1968)
The O'Jays In Philadelphia (Neptune Records 1969)
Super Bad (Neptune Records 1971)
Back Stabbers (Philadelphia International Records 1972)
Ship Ahoy (Philadelphia International Records 1973)
The O'Jays Live In London (Philadelphia International Records 1974)
Survival (Philadelphia International Records 1975)
Family Reunion (Philadelphia International Records 1975)
with the Moments: The O'Jays Meet The Moments (Philadelphia International Records 1975)
Message In The Music (Philadelphia International Records 1976)
Travellin' At The Speed Of Thought (Philadelphia International Records 1977)
So Full Of Love (Philadelphia International Records 1978)
Identify Yourself (Philadelphia International Records 1979)
The Year 2000 (TSOP Records 1980)
My Favourite Person (Philadelphia International Records 1982)
When Will I See You Again (Epic Records 1983)
Love And More (Philadelphia International Records 1984)
Love Fever (Philadelphia International Records 1985)
Close Company (Philadelphia International Records 1985)
Let Me Touch You (EMI Manhattan Records 1987)
Serious (EMI Records 1989)
Emotionally Yours (EMI Records 1991)
Home For Christmas (EMI Records 1991)
Heartbreaker (EMI Records 1993)
Love You To Tears (Global Soul / BMG Records 1997)
For The Love Of (MCA Records 2001)
Together We Are One (EMI Records 2004)
Imagination (Sanctuary Records Records 2004)
Christmas With The O'Jays (Saguaro Road Records 2010)
Too Imagine (Music World Music Records 2018)
The Last Word (S-Curve Records 2019)