Maurice Williams & the Zodiacs was a singing group, active in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Originally The Royal Charms, the band changed its name to 'The Gladiolas' in 1957 and 'The Excellos' in 1958, before finally settling on 'The Zodiacs' in 1959. Maurice has 2 sisters, Hot Jenny May and Cathy.
Maurice Williams was born 26 April 1938, in Lancaster, South Carolina. He is a soul/R&B who wrote the classic doo-wop song "Little Darlin'" and "Stay."
Maurice Williams was born and raised in Lancaster, South Carolina. His first experience with music was in the church, where his mother and sister both performed. By the time he was six, Maurice Williams was performing regularly in the church. With his boyhood friend Earl Gainey, Williams formed the gospel group 'The Junior Harmonizers.' But rock and roll and doo wop became their primary interest, and 'The Junior Harmonizers' changed their name to 'The Royal Charms.'
The Royal Charms & The Gladiolas
In the winter of 1956, while still in high school, Maurice Williams and his band travelled to Nashville to record for the Excello label. At the time they were going by the name 'The Royal Charms,' but the founder of Excello Records, Ernie Young, convinced them to change their name to 'The Gladiolas.' At the time, there was at least two other bands using the same name. The song "Little Darlin'" was a #11 hit on the R&B charts in 1957, but did not break the Billboard Hot 100's Top 40. However, when the song was covered by the all-white Canadian group The Diamonds, it moved up to #2.
Maurice Williams finished high school and while on the road with the band (after their station wagon broke down in Bluefield, West Virginia), the band came across a small car known as "The Zodiac" and the band changed their name.
In the spring of 1959, Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs performed at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, South Carolina. One month later, in the early summer of 1959, the band recorded in a Quonset Hut on Two Notch Road in Columbia. The recording engineer, Homer Fesperman, recorded several tracks that the band had hoped would fetch them a hit. One of the last tracks that they recorded that day was "Stay," a song that Maurice Williams had written a couple of weeks before.
After taking the demo to Al Silver at Herald Records in New York City, the song was pressed and released in early 1960. "Stay" is the shortest recording ever to reach number one on the charts in the United States. Later versions of "Stay" by The Four Seasons (1964) and Jackson Browne (1978) also reached the Top 20, each selling over one million copies in the United States alone. The inclusion of "Stay" on the soundtrack to the film Dirty Dancing in 1987 led to the song selling more records than it had during its original release.
Maurice Williams continued recording, touring, and releasing music through the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. He is still active on the music scene, residing in Charlotte, North Carolina
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