Billy Paul, the jazz and soul singer best known for the chart-topping ballad Me And Mrs Jones, has died.
Paul, 80, whose career spanned more than 60 years, died at his home in Blackwood, New Jersey, USA, his co-manager Beverly Gay said. He had pancreatic cancer.
Known by his beard and large glasses, Paul was one of many singers who found success with the writing and producing team of Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff, whose Philadelphia International Records also released music by the O’Jays, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, and Lou Rawls.
‘Me And Mrs Jones’ was an extramarital confession and a typical Gamble and Huff production, setting Paul’s tenor against a lush and sensuous arrangement.
Many fans best remember the moment when Paul’s otherwise subtle vocals jump as they reach the title words, stretching out “Me” and “And” into multiple syllables and repeating “Mrs Jones, Mrs Jones, Mrs Jones, Mrs Jones” (Paul himself was married to the same woman for decades).
The song was one of the top singles of 1972 and brought Paul a Grammy the following year for best male rhythm ‘n’ blues performance, with runners-up including Ray Charles and Curtis Mayfield.
He continued to perform live until he fell ill and his manager said he had been lining up numerous appearances at the time of his death.
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