When you’re a teenager and glued to Top 40 radio and you read Billboard and Rolling Stone and listen to Casey Kasem’s weekly countdown show you think you know a little something about popular music and the artists who make it shine. After all, there was no Internet, no cable TV. You might pick up on some tidbits in the album notes of the stars. I never knew any of the following.
This week’s featured guest served in the same Army unit in Germany with Elvis. He didn’t enjoy true music fame until the early 1970’s when he had his biggest (and only) hit about cheating on his spouse (In real life he was married to the same woman for decades).
This singer found success with the writing and producing team of Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff out of Philadelphia. They said this about the singer’s only hit:
“In our view, it is one of the greatest love songs ever recorded.”
I’m not so sure, though there’s no denying what a smash the song about an extramarital affair was in 1972. It won a Grammy in 1973 for best male rhythm ‘n blues performance, beating out Ray Charles and Curtis Mayfield.
Billy Paul died last Sunday after learning he had pancreatic cancer. He was 80.
A great saxophonist, Ed Calle.
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