Soul Singer Billy Paul Dies at 81

The legendary crooner had been recently diagnosed with cancer

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Sadly, Philadelphia soul singer Billy Paul died at the age of 81 Sunday morning.

His manager, Beverly Gay told NBC10 that Paul, born Paul Williams, was recently diagnosed with cancer and was hospitalized last week. He died at his home in Blackwood, New Jersey, according to Gay.

An announcement was posted on the legendary musician’s website:

“We regret to announce with a heavy heart that Billy has passed away today at home after a serious medical condition.

We would like to extend our most sincere condolences to his wife Blanche and family for their loss, as they and the world grieves the loss of another musical icon that helped pioneered today’s R&B music. Billy will be truly missed.

Please share you thought, messages and stories of Billy as we remember this legendary artist, family member and friend.”

Paul began his musical career at the age of 11 when he was featured on a local radio station, but he achieved his greatest mainstream success with the release of his 1972 single “Me and Mrs. Jones,” which was written and produced by Gamble and Huff. The song was the number one single on the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B singles chart and received a Grammy Award. “Me and Mrs. Jones,” also received some recognition decades later when singer Michael Buble released a cover version in 2007.

Paul released 15 albums between 1968 and 1988 and sang with the likes of Charlie “Bird” Parker, Nina Simone, Miles Davis and Roberta Flack. According to the musician’s website, Questlove of the Roots once compared him to Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder, calling him, “one of the criminally unmentioned proprietors of socially conscious post-revolution ‘60s civil rights music.”

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