Sunday, June 16, 2024

Billy Paul, the Great R&B Star and Singer of “Me and Mrs. Jones” Fame, Has Died at 81


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.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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