Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The O'Jays were a 1970s Philadelphia soul group, originally consisting of Walter Williams, Bill Isles , Bobby Massey , William Powell and Eddie Levert . They formed the group in Canton, Ohio in 1958 (see 1958 in music) while attending high school.
Originally known as The Triumphs, followed by The Mascots, the friends began recording with "Miracles" in 1961 (see 1961 in music), which was a moderate hit in the Cleveland area. They took the name "the O'Jays", in tribute to radio disc jockey Eddie O'Jay (Toop, 1991), in 1963 (see 1963 in music) and released "Lonely Drifter", which charted nationally. Their debut LP was Comin' Through .
The O'Jay's (now a quartet after the departure of Isles) had their first hit with "I'll Be Sweeter Tomorrow (Than I Was Today)"; in spite of its success, the group was considering quitting the music business until Gamble & Huff, a legendary team of producers and songwriters, took an interest in the group. With Gamble & Huff, the O'Jays emerged at the forefront of Philadelphia soul with Back Stabbers (1972; see 1972 in music), a pop hit.
During the remainder of the 1970s, the O'Jays continued releasing chart-topping singles, including "For the Love of Money", "Let Me Make Love to You", "Give the People What They Want" and "I Love Music". Powell died of cancer in 1977 (see 1977 in music).
After adding Sammy Strain (of Little Anthony & the Imperials), the O'Jays continued recording, though with limited success. 1978's (see 1978 in music) "Use Ta Be My Girl" was their final Top Five hit, though they continued scraping the bottom of the R&B charts throughout the 1980s. Let Me Touch You (1987; see 1987 in music) was a breakthrough of sorts, and included the #1 R&B hit "Lovin' You". Though they continued charting on the R&B charts in the late 80s and early 1990s, the O'Jays never again achieved pop success. Later in the 90s, the band did little recording, though they remained a popular live draw. Their latest album is For the Love... in 2001 (see 2001 in music).
In the new millenium, rap groups such as The Diplomats have been constantly speeding-up their records to provide a background for their songs. In 2005, the O'Jays were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
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