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Unsung 2022 🎡 The O'Jays Use Ta Be My Girl 🎡 Unsung Episodes 2022

Unsung 2022 🎡 The O'Jays   Use Ta Be My Girl 🎡 Unsung Episodes 2022
of The O'Jays this big building here was Republic Steel this is where my dad worked and uh right here on the corner uh is where Eddie lived we were a stone throw away from each other the housing in this part and where we lived was a suspect okay as you get over the bridge the houses start to change you start seeing tulips in the yard start seeing Lawns you start seeing better housing so we knew at early ages that we wanted to live better and could live better probably when I was about eight years old Eddie Levert moved into the neighborhood and Eddie was always singing the reason why I started singing was because of the

girl

s man I wanted to have the

girl

s and he could really sing and he sang all the time he sang so much that the Neighbors at night would throw old shoes at him telling him to shut up stop all of that noise young Walt like to sing too he soon teamed up with Eddie and his brothers and began singing gospel in church we got together and we were in the hallways just goofing and with the hallways had this echoey sound then really made us sound good together that was the extent of the musical ambition until one memorable summer night in Canton this place has a lot to do with the OJ's career every year they would have a show called the shower of stars one time in particular the show was coasters The Drifters either Frankie Lymon and the teenagers or or Little Anthony and the Imperials the girls went crazy the girls they the guy go to sing and they'd be screaming and hollering and that was my motivation money had nothing to do with it groups after that night sprang up all over Canton Massillon Youngstown Waynesburg it was 1958 and the Five Guys from Canton call themselves The Imperials but soon changed their name to the triumphs and then later the mascots myself Walt Williams Bill Isles Bobby Massey William Powell what was 14 and was 15 bill was 16 we were 17 and I was 18.
unsung 2022 the o jays use ta be my girl unsung episodes 2022
Walter myself we empowered we were natural singers uh Bill Isles Bobby Massey they were like background vocals Bobby really put him in the group because he had a car and we had we could get to our kids so I ended up meeting people and and sort of being the spokesman for the group why is it always the guys who can't sing want to be the leader of the crew in 1961 on the heels of successful local appearances Sid Nathan of King records James Brown's label offered them a recording contract we were so proud of those contracts we actually carried them around in our back pocket and Dick Clark had his uh American Bandstand thing and and we went down to see to see the show and we were backstage where they were loading in we had a iconic recording contract in our hands and the first people we see is The Coasters he wanted to let them know that he had just gotten a recording contract and he pulls it out and he runs up and shows it to one of them and says I just got a recording contract I'm going to be as big as you one there he says get the F away from me she never forgot that moment I'm holding it up joining okay one day one day I'm gonna be in the business and you're gonna to take that back their first recordings for King brought them to the attention of Cleveland power jock Eddie OJ who took the mascots under his wing getting them gigs recording contracts and a new name they used to call us OJ's boys and so he said man we need to call him something so Eddie LJ his pride idea okay let's call them OJ's for the meantime I'll give it to okay we'll be The OJ's because we couldn't think of nothing they were named after a DJ this is slick how do you get your records on the radio after miracles Eddie OJ said well I'm going to send you out to California to get with this guy named H.B Barnum besides being a composer and an accomplished musician H.B Barnum had his own record label Eddie o'jay he told me about this great group he had in Cleveland he wanted to know if I wanted to record him on my label and then if I recorded about my label he would make sure that they got the record guy played well that was a great opportunity for me we went to California to record with him and we went out there with five guys so HP got us a little apartment and five of us was in a one bedroom we got some mattress and put them on the floor and the plan was to stay three weeks record the album and go home they wound up staying three years well once we got going we started recording a great song called Lonely Drifter that Eddie and Walt wrote and then recognized on the map and then Liberty records took over part of my label and they recorded a great song there called Lipstick Traces all the things every memory finger will be yeah between recording sessions the guys made a living singing background vocals and performing at teenage sock hops sometimes in disguise a booking agent called me up and say man uh I need a little Anthony Imperials Little Anthony could get out there so he hired us and so we we would get together and rehearse and learn this song and we go somewhere and perform them songs as that particular artist we'd be The Coasters we'd be whoever wasn't making it to the West Coast we would we would perpetrate a fraud and be those people anybody in them days that was had a big record that couldn't come to California that look at they would call us up and we go work somewhere and some guy said man didn't I see last week hey when you whistling Anthony no lady get away I don't know I think the only people that we wouldn't was the temptation in the mid 60s the musical landscape in America was changing rapidly popular Soul artists like Aretha Franklin Wilson Pickett Otis Redding and Sam and Dave were pushing r b into the mainstream as never before adrift in L.A The OJ's felt far removed from that experience we realized that La was so far on the other side of the world that if we were going to work and make the OSHA thing happen and we needed to be in Cleveland Washington Baltimore so we moved back to Cleveland by the mid 60s Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff were among the hottest producers in r b the pair had cut tracks for acts like Wilson Pickett The Jackson 5 and Lou Rawls by the time they met The OJ's in 1966 they had their own label Neptune and a distribution deal with Chess Records their collaboration would be one of the most successful in r b history but before that could happen the group would undergo some major changes Walt Williams myself William Powell we were the nucleus of the group these other guys were just hanging on The OJ's is a great group well we were hella lot better with me The OJ's first collaboration with producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff produced a string of regional hits for chess records They sold records but after Leonard Chess died nobody honored the contract so they paid nobody we all came back to Cleveland with no money and no immediate prospects the group retreated to Cleveland for some soul-searching while staying out in L.A Bill Isles had fallen in love with a California Girl he said well I'm going to California and I'll be back in two weeks he went back to L.A he never came back we never saw him again that the girl had him by she had him hooked okay We're Not Gonna replace him the pie is now cut four ways instead of five but now Bobby Massey was ready for a change too Bobby was a wheelie dealer he wanted to do other things at early stage as far as producing and and writing and getting into the background you say look young brother the money is not in the singer the money's in writing and producing after a year of waiting Gamble and huff found a new distributor and called The OJ's to Philly to record for their Philadelphia International label by this time my rent was due I was I was almost in the poor house but Bobby Massey wouldn't go Bobby Massey tried to hold out and say well I'm not coming back unless we get an opportunity or I get an opportunity to write and produce and uh Eddie and I we toyed with it for a while and then finally we decided we're going back William Powell went along too but Bobby wouldn't budge see now now I'm hard hit it right I was stupid it went on but I didn't do that so Walt did and William got in the car and they went on to Philly and they recorded that's what they recorded the backstabbers album s thanks ever just follow your face 1972's backstabbers album sold over a million copies the title track Rose quickly to number one on the r b charts then crossed over to number three on the pop charts the sound they helped create had a name Philly soul with the group now paired down to three singers and backed by the PowerHouse creative team of Gamble and huff The OJ's were the complete package they had the sound the songs and thanks to Charlie Atkins they had the moves Charlie Atkins was a choreographer for Motown at a time and uh when we started getting the big records we started working with Charlie how to walk on how to leave the stage how to speak and move about on the stage and they taught The Supremes Temptations the Miracles Gladys Knight and the Pips The Jackson 5 The Spinners he's responsible for a lot of those moves that you see Charlie used to tell me the Four Tops never would show up for rehearsal so all they had was the the sway thing that they did I'm trying to get close as I can man when you're not at the microphone you have to be doing something you have to be dancing so and and every move that you do must work your way back to the microphone so when it's time for you to sing you're ready to sing he would never want you to go straight back from the mic he would always want you to go sideways back from the mic and come back up sideways like that there's almost he call it his John Wayne move you know because that's kind of how John Wayne walked yeah we rehearsed six days a week six hours a day from 12 noon to six I mean I was learning steps in my sleep it was that intense but you learn to love that old man because when you actually got on on that stage and started doing it the crowd went nuts every number had his own routine you have to remember all of that along with the lyrics and the song and and the energy that it took because it's hard to sing and dance especially when things are not on the beat mastering Charlie Atkins routine was tough on everybody but especially on Walt Williams unknown to all but his closest family and friends Walt suffered from multiple sclerosis it frightened me really bad because they had no cure for it I was scared to death Walt kept his Affliction mostly to himself while he struggled to perform each night on the road my balance was horrible trying to do Charlie Adkins steps with numb feet and numb legs and especially spins and turns but I I managed to do it and I did it for years and to think that Walter could do that with Ms how he could play with pain every night like that what a soldier The OJ's soldiered on and their popularity exploded thanks to a song that would become an r b anthem help me no one knew that love train was going to have that kind of impact it is the biggest record we've ever had and they're still using it right now Coors Light is used the train is a five minute song we wrote the words right there in the studio five minutes on your brother it's so two million copies out the door um unbelievable response we went from chitlin circuit kind of material to the more prestigious venues and making more money certainly because of one record it really made a difference in our lives and in our careers wow after nearly 14 years of pounding on the door of success that door was about to swing wide open for The OJ's and now all of a sudden the hits are there so now the party started Philly International had this kind of social and political concerns and really pushed it to the fore when they're giving you these cautionary tales like backstabbers or For the Love of Money literally songs that feed your soul see all of those songs the backstabbers love train For the Love of Money the messages that they carry are still ever prevalent right now I haven't wow some people really need a world they actually went to church and and and got it and they lived it and not only imagine the way that they sang them I mean they put poured their heart and soul into it was like nobody else he was like a bull in China across it man I mean when he opened his mouth he just you know just power what is arranged uh he's everything with makuna like Bing Crosby to a squalor like uh Wilson Pickett our old gospel singer but even next to these exceptional vocal talents William Powell was the man if you remember Fabian or Frankie Avalon or those people it was about the pretty guy so William Paul at that front was light-skinned tall and he sung like Eddie Kendricks with the high tenor voice the girls loved him he would have all the girls all the time so if you weren't around William you weren't in the mix finally in the black neighborhood dark-skinned guys came into play they became the what's happened that's when I started doing some of the lead and then after that met him start switch leading and that's how we came up with the style of The OJ's foreign the love train rolled on through the 70s with The OJ's Gamblin huff and Charlie Atkins aboard the hits kept on coming the hits are there until now the party starts and the girls are there okay now you go off your rocker and you you're you're off into things that have nothing to do with music because now all the perks per se are coming your way the girls the the drugs the accolades the glamor the glitz foreign abundance of beautiful women in and out of your life In Love the flesh is weak if you live through that stage if you can survive through that scene you go to this place where you say well I'll take a rest for two years you get off the beaten path now everybody that was behind you are now in front of you and now trying to get back you got the girl standing in your way you got the drug man standing in your way some people don't come back from that Eddie and Walt managed to get through it all but tragically will Powell got lost somewhere along the way what was heavily in the drugs um we headed as best we could Eddie and I did some dates without him he told Jolly Atkins and he liked it and the old man told us you probably should start looking for somebody because he's not going to straighten this out he got hooked on drugs um on heroin and uh he used to show up to the gigs wiped out we didn't know what was wrong with it because this was a 360. this was not the person that we grew up with that we came out of Canton with I do believe will loved what he was doing uh as far as uh the group thing but he had fallen into something that he really couldn't get out of in time it became clear why will Powell had come to rely so heavily on heroin I remember when he went to the dock and he came back and he acted like nothing had happened he didn't tell us anything and then finally it came out that he had cancer in the grip of his illness and addiction came the day when will was no longer able to perform we finally had to say okay will we we got to keep working which was a was a really trying period because we came from nowhere to this and we were just beginning to tap the surface when he got sick like that William Powell stopped performing in 1975. he died of cancer in 1977 at the age of 35.
unsung 2022 the o jays use ta be my girl unsung episodes 2022

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I was so crushed man we have to get a replacement for him it was very hard very very uh very hard time The OJ's had begun their journey in the late 50s as five friends who loved to sing now in 1975 still reeling from the loss of lead singer will Powell to cancer remaining members Walt Williams and Eddie Levert searched for a new vocalist replacing will was tough but they hit Pay Dirt with Sammy strain I think my biggest contribution to the group was the fact that uh I was a dancer and um Little Anthony Imperials we were very animated on stage we did splits and things like that so I had another type of energy when I came to the group you girls got there any good loving ask me how I know we had a gospel background and so we we would tell Sammy when we were recording man you're Catholic man you put in this Catholic stuff because he sung every everything's so straight you know what I'm saying will Powell would always be missed but Sammy strain proved to be an ideal replacement singing on O.J hits like used to be my girl forever mine and don't let me down the tourists for seven weeks well those seven weeks turned out to be 16 years Sammy strange tenure with the OJ saw much change in popular music the Disco Eric came and went hip hop made the scene and the Advent of music videos created recording stars out of performers who couldn't always deliver in person The OJ's were able to create the same magic in person and that's what set the group aside you know from other groups I used to call it back in your wax as for the OJ's after the success of 1978 used to be my girl the pop crossover hits stopped coming but they were a constant presence on the r b charts with hits like loving you and they continued to be a top drawing live Act in the early 80s two of Eddie's Sons Gerald and Sean took their dad's lead and along with their friend Mark Gordon formed a pop soul group they call Simply Levert Eddie was a mentor he made his work hard he get us up early in the morning wake up and we would be up all night working on music Gerald always uh wanted to be a performer and he lived it and he paid the price to be it at the age of 15.
unsung 2022 the o jays use ta be my girl unsung episodes 2022
I took him around and got his first deal with the group Levert one of Gerald Levert's good friends was another young ambitious singer named Eric Nolan Grant I found the group back in the day called the deltones we thought we were going to be the next OJ's we just always had this Vision about us being huge Stars Eric Grant and Gerald Levert had bonded at the age of 14. United by their common goal of achieving success in the music business as it turned out it was Gerald's group Levert that signed the big record deal four of their albums went gold in his many years Eric's luck had gone the other way he wound up in Detroit living out of his car but then one day a Lifeline appeared in the form of a phone call Gerald Levert calling to say that the OJ's were looking for a new singer by then Sammy strain had rejoined Little Anthony and the Imperials for a reunion tour and the guy who replaced him in 1992 Nate best had left too Cheryl literally took me off the streets when the gear came up about The OJ's girl was adamant to his dad that this is the guy his father wasn't really sold on me in court and Walt definitely was assault on me Atkins who turns around choreography he would give me tapes of The OJ's and I would put the tapes in turn the TV sideways cattle corner and I would try to emulate what they were doing that's how bad I wanted to be in The OJ's and I wanted to prove Eddie wrong when Levert toured with The OJ's Eric sang background for Gerald's group then filled in his third man for The OJ's singing 26 songs per night when I got in the group they were still people were still falling out over these guys where girls was like going crazy and still throwing their underwear on stage the actual pennies coming on stage or well as Eddie says now it's just big old draws now and when I saw it I was like so that's real that's not a myth they throw drawers on stage two years went by that I sung with The OJ's they never announced that I was a new member of The OJ's two years until the night at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville Tennessee then that's when they said the newest member of The OJ's Eric Nolan Grant Eddie and Walter had always cautioned Eric that The OJ's were a big time act expectations were very high you always had to be ready you got to be ready all the time 110 you got to be always ready foreign um because I don't ever want to let Eddie and Walter down but then there are the things that happen that no one is ever ready for I found out one thing then no matter what you think we don't control anything and I said Eddie you don't feel it don't do it no more by 1991 after 30 years on the road The OJ's were still performing and doing their thing and Eddie's son Gerald had launched his solo career see Gerald had it all he had the heart and the soul of a Levert and he had the perfectionist of Walter Williams the following year Gerald teamed up with his dad on the number one single Baby Hold On To Me Gerald is always trying to outdo his dad you know because he watched him for so many years and he just figured well I'm gonna get him tonight you know like you admire your father for what he do and you're like I'ma show you that I can do it also for the next 14 years Gerald continued to record while writing and producing songs for other top artists like Barry White Teddy Pendergrass and The OJ's by 2006 Gerald and Eddie had also co-authored a memoir titled I got your back a father and son keep it real about love fatherhood family and friendship but before the book could even be printed Gerald Levert was discovered dead of an apparent heart attack in his home it was November 10 2006. he was just 40 years old they call me up and tell me that uh they tried to wake him up and he wasn't responding and that the paramedics were there and they were taking him to the hospital a later autopsy revealed that prescription meds may have been a factor the next time they call me except tell me he was gone um when Gerald passed Eddie didn't want to do it no more he took the took the air out of her you see him this week and you catch you later and then somebody calls you early one morning and say you know Gerald passed last night I said Eddie try this Go on stage we were in Philadelphia and I said go on stage see how you feel you don't feel it don't do it anymore even though I'ma take the hell because I won't be able to make no more money but they don't do it no more Eddie came on stage we didn't get to the first song People stood up and they um they stood up for Eddie for about two minutes they just clap
unsung 2022 the o jays use ta be my girl unsung episodes 2022

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