'Me and Mrs. Jones' Singer Dies

Philadelphia soul legend Billy Paul was 80
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 25, 2016 12:33 AM CDT

(Newser) – Billy Paul, a jazz and soul singer best known for the No. 1 hit ballad and "Philadelphia Soul" classic "Me and Mrs. Jones," died Sunday. Paul, whose career spanned more than 60 years, died at his home in New Jersey, his co-manager, Beverly Gay, tells the AP. Paul, 80, had been diagnosed recently with pancreatic cancer, Gay says. Paul was one of many singers who found success with the writing and producing team of Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff. His voice made him "one of the great artists to come out of Philly and to be celebrated worldwide," Gamble and Huff said in a statement late Sunday. "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."

The song was one of the top singles of 1972 and brought Paul a Grammy the following year for best male rhythm-and-blues performance, with runners-up including Ray Charles and Curtis Mayfield. Paul, a Philadelphia native who performed with jazz stars like Charlie Parker in his early days, was drafted into the military in his early 20s and found himself on the same base in Germany with a couple of famous show-business names: Elvis Presley and Gary Crosby, Bing Crosby's son. "We said we're going to start a band, so we didn't have to do any hard work in the service," he told Blues & Soul in 2015. "We tried to get Elvis to join but he wanted to be a jeep driver. So me and Gary Crosby, we started it and called ourselves the Jazz Blues Symphony Band." (Read more soul stories.)

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