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The O'Jays

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Canton, Ohio, USA (1963 – present)

The O’Jays are an American R&B group (from Canton, Ohio, USA) formed in 1963 and one of the seminal Philly soul groups.

The O’Jays originally consisting of Walter Williams (b. August 25, 1942), Bill Isles, Bobby Massey, William Powell (January 20, 1942–May 26, 1977) and Eddie Levert (b. June 16, 1942). The O’Jays were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2004, and The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005. The O’Jays (now a trio after the departure of Isles and Massey) had their first hit with “Lonely Drifter”, in 1963. In spite of the record’s 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), a huge pop hit, and topped the U.S. singles charts the following year with their anthemic “Love Train”.

They formed the group in Canton, Ohio in 1958 while attending Canton McKinley High School. Originally known as The Triumphs, and then The Mascots, the friends began recording with “Miracles” in 1961, which was a moderate hit in the Cleveland area. In 1963 they took the name “The O’Jays”, in tribute to radio disc jockey Eddie O’Jay (Toop, 1991), and released “Lonely Drifter”, which charted nationally. Their debut LP was Comin’ Through.

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