Billy Paul has died at age 81 from pancreatic cancer. I was lucky to meet him a few times over the years. He was one of the big stars of Gamble and Huff’s Philadelphia International Records. His biggest hit, “Me and Mrs. Jones,” from 1973, is a classic for all seasons.
In 2000, Billy and a pal saw a Nike commercial during the Super Bowl that used “Me and Mrs. Jones.” Billy told me, “My friend said, You must be getting a lot of money in royalties. I told him, I haven’t gotten a penny.” In fact, Gamble and Huff hadn’t sent Billy a royalty statement for 27 years. Billy sued them, and long story, was awarded $500,000. The judge then advised other Philly International artists to sue Gamble and Huff for owed monies. Today Gamble and Huff are, haha, honorary co-chairmen of the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Billy Paul was a sweet guy with an amazing voice. He had plenty of other hits, all on the R&B charts. He will be sorely, sorely missed.