Billy Paul, “Me and Mrs. Jones” singer, dead at 80

Billy Paul, the Grammy-winning soul singer of the 1970s hit “Me and Mrs. Jones,” has died, a statement on his official website said. He was 80.

Paul died at home Sunday after a “serious medical condition,” the statement read.

The song about an affair with the mysterious “Mrs. Jones” reached No. 1 and earned Paul the Grammy for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance in 1972.

The song — with Paul earnestly stuttering “Mrs., Mrs. Jones, Mrs. Jones” — was about an illicit romance with a woman at a cafe. Even though “we both know that it’s wrong,” he sang, they would see each other tomorrow at “the same place, the same time.”

The song’s sophisticated arrangement with lush strings was the signature sound of Philadelphia International Records, known as the Motown of the ’70s. It was the same label behind Teddy Pendergrass’ “Come Go With Me” and the O’Jays’ “Love Train.”

Tribute from Gamble and Huff

Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff founded the label in 1971 after several years of producing and songwriting success and it soon became the home of Philadelphia soul — “The Sound of Philadelphia.”

“We are very saddened to learn of the sudden death of our good friend and Philadelphia International Records recording artist Billy Paul,” Gamble and Huff wrote in a statement Sunday.

“From the time we saw Billy performing live, and then signing him to our PIR/TSOP label, we immediately realized that we had discovered and launched one the most unique voices in the music industry. Billy’s voice combined jazz, R&B and soul vocals, making him one the great artists to come out of Philly and to be celebrated worldwide.

“Our proudest moment with Billy was the recording of the salacious smash ‘Me and Mrs. Jones.’ In our view, it is one of the greatest love songs ever recorded. Billy was one of the first artists to help launch the PIR/TSOP brand, and he will forever have a special place in music history.”

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