BLACKWOOD, NJ (CelebrityAccess) — Soul singer Billy Paul, a key component of the Philadelphia Soul Sound, best known for the hit 'Me and Mrs. Jones' died on Sunday morning. He was 81.
Manager Beverly Gay told NBC News that Paul, born Paul Williams, was recently diagnosed with cancer and was hospitalized last week at Temple University Hospital, but died at his home in Blackwood, New Jersey.
Kenneth Gamble & Leon Huff, founders of Paul's original label Philadelphia International Records said:
"We are very saddened to learn of the sudden death of our good friend and Philadelphia International Records recording artist Billy Paul. From the time we saw Billy performing live, and then signing him to our PIR/TSOP label, we immediately realized that we had discovered and launched one the most unique voices in the music industry. Billy's voice combined both Jazz, R&B and Soul vocals, making him one the great artists to come out of Philly and to be celebrated worldwide. Our proudest moment with Billy was the recording of the salacious smash ‘Me and Mrs. Jones.’ In our view, it is one of the greatest love songs ever recorded. Billy was one of the first artists to help launch the PIR/TSOP brand, and he will forever have a special place in music history.”
Paul had a string of hits on Philadelphia International Records in the 1970s, including “Me and Mrs. Jones,” "Let's Clean Up the Ghetto," and "Am I Black Enough for You?" However, his success was tempered by changing tastes in the 1980s.
Starting in 2000, Paul successfully sued Nike over the use of "Mrs. Jones" without permission in an ad campaign, and then his former label Philadelphia International Records, alleging non-payment of royalties. The jury found for Paul, awarding him half a million in royalties.
Paul was inducted into the Philadelphia Walk of Fame in 2008. – Staff Writers