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The O'Jays

The O'Jays were one of Philadelphia soul's most popular and long-lived outfits, rivaled only by the Spinners as soul's greatest vocal group of the '70s. In their prime, the O'Jays' recordings epitomized the Philly soul sound: smooth, rich harmonies backed by elaborate arrangements, lush strings, and a touch of contemporary funk. They worked extensively with the legendary production/songwriting team of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, becoming the flagship artist of the duo's Philadelphia International label. The O'Jays were equally at home singing sweet love ballads or uptempo dance tunes, the latter of which were often mouthpieces for Gamble & Huff's social concerns. Although the O'Jays couldn't sustain their widespread popularity in the post-disco age, they have continued to record steadily all the way up to the present day, modifying their production to keep up with the times.

The O'Jays were formed in 1958 in Canton, OH, where all five original members -- Eddie Levert, Walter Williams, William Powell, Bill Isles, and Bobby Massey -- attended McKinley High School. Inspired to start a singing group after seeing a performance by Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers, they first called themselves the Triumphs, then switched to the Mascots in 1960. The Mascots made their recording debut in 1961 with the single "Miracles," issued on the Cincinnati-based King label. It earned them a fan in the influential Cleveland DJ Eddie O'Jay, who gave them some airplay and career advice; in turn, the group renamed itself the O'Jays in 1963, after having recorded for Apollo Records with producer Don Davis. Under their new name, the O'Jays signed with Imperial and hooked up with producer H.B. Barnum, who would helm their first charting single, 1963's "Lonely Drifter," plus several more singles that followed. Isles left the group in 1965 and was not replaced, leaving them a quartet; late in the year, they released their first-ever album, Comin' Through. In 1967, the O'Jays left Imperial for Bell, where they landed their first Top Ten single on the R&B charts, "I'll Be Sweeter Tomorrow (Than I Was Today)." Discouraged by the difficulty of following that success, the group members considered throwing in the towel until they met Gamble & Huff -- then working as a production team for the Neptune label -- in 1968. Gamble & Huff took an interest in the group, and they recorded several successful R&B singles together; however, Neptune folded in 1971, leaving the O'Jays in limbo, and Massey decided to exit the group.

Fortunately, Gamble & Huff formed their own label, Philadelphia International, and made the O'Jays -- now a trio -- one of their first signings. The O'Jays' label debut, Back Stabbers, released in 1972, became a classic landmark of Philly soul, and finally made them stars; the paranoid title track hit the pop Top Five, and the utopian "Love Train" went all the way to number one (both singles topped the R&B charts). It was the beginning of a remarkable run that produced nearly 30 chart singles over the course of the '70s, plus a series of best-selling albums and a bevy of number one hits on the R&B charts. The O'Jays followed up their breakthrough with another classic LP, Ship Ahoy, in 1973; it featured the number one R&B hit "For the Love of Money," a funky protest number that still ranks as one of their signature songs, as well as the ten-minute title track, an ambitious suite recounting the ocean journeys of African slaves. Released in 1975, Survival was another hit, spinning off the hits "Let Me Make Love to You" and the R&B number one "Give the People What They Want." Family Reunion found the O'Jays making concessions to the emerging disco sound, which got them their third Top Five pop hit in "I Love Music, Pt. 1." Unfortunately, William Powell was diagnosed with cancer that year, and although he continued to record with the group for a time (appearing on 1976's Message in Our Music), he was forced to retire from live performing, and passed away on May 26, 1977.

Powell's replacement was Sammy Strain, a 12-year veteran of Little Anthony & the Imperials. The O'Jays regrouped on the albums Travelin' at the Speed of Thought (1977) and So Full of Love (1978), the latter of which produced their final Top Five pop hit, "Use ta Be My Girl." Released in 1979, Identify Yourself began to show signs of wear and tear in the group's successful formula, and often consciously attempted to follow disco trends. Although it sold respectably, it marked the beginning of a decline in the O'Jays' commercial fortunes. Undaunted by the increasingly diminished returns of their early-'80s LPs, the group kept plugging away, and never completely disappeared from the R&B charts. They finally left Philadelphia International and signed with EMI for 1987's Let Me Touch You, which melded their classic sound with up-to-date urban-R&B production. Powered by the Gamble & Huff-penned R&B number one "Lovin' You," as well as the increased visibility of Eddie Levert's sons Gerald and Sean (two-thirds of the hit urban group LeVert), the album gave their career a much-needed shot in the arm.

Released in 1989, Serious supplied another big R&B hit in "Have You Had Your Love Today?"; with Nathaniel Best replacing Sammy Strain, 1991's Emotionally Yours and 1993's Heartbreaker also placed very well on the R&B charts. The O'Jays' comeback didn't really extend to the pop side, and didn't attract the sort of critical praise earned by their '70s classics; as the new jack swing craze subsided, so did the O'Jays' recording activity, though they remained consistent draws on the live circuit. In 1997, now with Eric Grant joining Levert and Williams, they returned with Love You to Tears. A recording layoff followed, during which the O'Jays signed with MCA; they debuted for the label with For the Love..., which was released in 2001. Imagination followed in 2004 on Sanctuary Records, while a new holiday album, Christmas with the O'Jays, appeared in 2010 from Saguaro Road Records. ~ Steve Huey
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Love Train: The Best Of The O'Jays

Disc 1

1. Livin' For The Weekend

2. Family Reunion

3. Unity

5. A Prayer

6. Paradise

7. Make A Joyful Noise

8. The Big Gangster

9. Work On Me

11. Brandy

12. This Time Baby

13. Cry Together

14. Sing A Happy Song

15. Forever Mine

Disc 2

1. Girl, Don't Let It Get You Down

2. Once Is Not Enough

3. You Won't Fail

4. To Prove I Love You

8. Put Our Heads Together

9. Extraordinary Girl

12. Lovin' You

14. Love Train (Live)

15. Back Stabbers (Live)

16. For The Love Of Money (Live)

x

Track List: For The Love...

1. Long Distance Lover

2. Let's Ride

3. Don't Break My Heart

4. Put Out The Fire

5. Come Over To My House

6. I'm Ready Now

7. Searching For The Love I Lost

8. I Don't Know

9. Latin Lover

10. Baby Making Love

11. Sounds Like Me

x

Track List: The Year 2000 - My Favorite Person

Disc 1

1. Year 2000

2. To Prove I Love You

3. You'll Never Know (All There Is To Know 'Bout My Love)

5. You Won't Fail

6. Girl, Don't Let It Get You Down

7. Answer's In You

8. Once Is Not Enough

Disc 2

1. I Just Want To Satisfy You

2. Your Body's Here With Me (But Your Mind's On The Other Side Of Town)

3. My Favorite Person

4. One On One

5. I Like To See Us Get Down

6. Your True Heart (And Shining Star)

7. Out In The Real World

8. Don't Walk Away Mad

x

Track List: Emotionally Yours

1. Don't Let Me Down

2. Something For Nothing

3. Emotionally Yours (R & B Version)

4. Respect (feat. The Jazz)

5. Keep On Lovin' Me

6. Love & Trust

7. Don't You Know True Love

8. Emotionally Yours (Gospel Version)

9. That's How Love Is

10. Closer To You

11. If I Fine Love Again (feat. Najee)

12. Keep On Pleasin' Me

13. Lies

14. Make It Feel Good

x

Track List: So Full Of Love

1. Sing My Heart Out

2. Use Ta Be My Girl

3. Cry Together

4. This Time Baby

5. Brandy

6. Take Me To The Stars

7. Help (Somebody, Please)

8. Strokety Stroke

x

Track List: Message In The Music

2. A Prayer

3. Paradise

4. Make A Joyful Noise

5. Desire Me

7. I Swear, I Love No One But You

8. Let Life Flow

x

Track List: Family Reunion

1. Unity

2. Family Reunion

3. You And Me

4. She's Only A Woman

5. Livin' For The Weekend

6. Stairway To Heaven

7. I Love Music

x

Track List: Survival

1. Give The People What They Want

2. Let Me Make Love To You

3. Survival

4. Where Did We Go Wrong

5. Rich Get Richer

6. How Time Flies

7. What Am I Waiting For

8. Never Break Us Up

x

Track List: Ship Ahoy

1. Put Your Hands Together

2. Ship Ahoy

3. This Air I Breathe

4. You Got Your Hooks In Me

5. For The Love Of Money

6. Now That We Found Love

7. Don't Call Me Brother

x

Track List: Back Stabbers

1. When The World's At Peace

2. Back Stabbers

3. Who Am I

4. (They Call Me) Mr. Lucky

5. Time To Get Down

6. 992 Arguments

7. Listen To The Clock On The Wall

8. Shiftless, Shady, Jealous Kind Of People

9. Sunshine

10. Love Train

x

Track List: The Very Best Of The O'Jays

1. 992 Arguments

2. Shiftless, Shady, Jealous Kind Of People

3. Sunshine

4. Love Train

5. When The World's At Peace

6. Back Stabbers

7. Give The People What They Want

8. (They Call Me) Mr. Lucky

9. Time To Get Down

10. For The Love Of Money

11. Put Your Hands Together

12. Who Am I

13. Livin' For The Weekend

14. Stairway To Heaven

15. I Love Music

Comments

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Wjhit can lsay.they good
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Happy time with my husband and I love it
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ddy0815
Nothing but love ! Nice, sensual, passionate love ! YES !
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True soul music right here! Not this "bubblegum junk" of today....
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This is my cut ret here..lol
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Just saw the three awesome O'Jays in Laughlin, Nevada on Saturday and they are still going strong. Love Train was out of this world.
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Remember driving over an hour to see Eddie and Walter sing on the corner of Cherry Street in Canton in the early 60's. They were awesome then and still are. I've seen the O'Jays probably 10 times in my life and will continue to see them wherever they appear. Money Money Money.
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MAKE IT GOOD TO THE BONE
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OOH OOH BABY GIRL WE WERE MADE FOR EACH OTHER
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Sorry Bat Man
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������������
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I agree with ddrorris1785
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I respect her when she was mine.
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Such a TRUE song..totall y real with it
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aestrada223
O Jays were such a great band to listen to when I was in High School from 72-76. Pandora has such a good mix.
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ddnorris1785
They DEFINITELY don't make music like this anymore!!?�� . Music that they made back then allowed you to listen...enj o y and UNDERSTAND what they were talking about as well as saying....BU T this crap they're making today is a whole LOTTA noise...and a whole LOTTA degrading women !! I truly feel sorry for this generation.. . . s o much disrespectfu l n e s s , rudeness and awful behavior!��� . I guess all we can do...is pray for them and put 'em in GOD'S hands!!�����
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Ohhhh. Make you wanna make love.
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Glad that im not alone in this hip hop world
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im glad i found pandora a friend told me about your web site
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~Forever Mine~remembe r this song...i was in jr high....Ojay s smooth crooners.... m u s i c still sounding good almost 40 years later.....cl a s s i c soul!
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Beautiful songs!
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Nn
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Know one does it better and you can't deny
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Great great great and you know that
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All the 70
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im sad all the time but take me back to real soul music im happy and feel like im back in my days when life was life and you lived it u young people listen learn and just feell
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Loving u always. You and Me.
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elynor
SANG WALTER AND EDDIE!!!
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elynor
Now, these are my guys, first, last and ALWAYS!!! LOVE ME SOME O'JAYS!!!
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The O'Jays . Just so cool and the music still loved now and forever!!!!! ! ! !
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Used to be alot of girls,not just one! ;)
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Best group ever. Love you all. Family Reunion. All time great. So many. Please record AGAIN.
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The Ojays are a throwback to when artists could really sing.
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The, o'jays are still a great group.
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Love the O'jay's
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You Got Your Hooks In Me...okay now O'Jays
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When I create a disco station I don't expect to hear heavy metal crap what was up with that? Disco & 80's were awesome its all happy stuff for the most part sorry if I seem upset but I was jamming then all of a sudden i don't know what that was by the way I got me some cool disco lights to go with my music I was having fun Lol
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jfredrics5
What a beautiful song.
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yvettepennin g t o n 3 4
My favorites Darling Darling Baby & Cry together I love there music
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The O'Jays were a great group
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I love the o jays music
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They are just good Artist love them
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The O'jay's are that shiznet!!! Philly boy!!!
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excellent!!! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
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Took my wife for 40 the anniversary to Ojays concert in Phoenix in 2015 and was priceless
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Fabulous talent and tunes and rythum
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These guys were so hot!
what ever happened to them!??
Just always make you get up and Boogie!!!
0:o))
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I love this song but to tell the truth Jackie Moore's rendition is much more powerful!
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colbolt219
Still the best group ever by far!��
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they have survived the test of time
Show more

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