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The O'Jays


1941

Sammy Strain of the O’Jays is born in Brooklyn, New York.

1942

William Powell of the O’Jays is born in Canton, Ohio.

1942

Eddie Levert of the O’Jays is born in Canton, Ohio.

1942

Walter Williams of the O’Jays is born in Canton, Ohio.

1961

The Mascots, an R&B vocal quintet from Canton, Ohio, issue two singles for Syd Nathan’s King label. Soon they will rename themselves the O’Jays.

1965

The O’Jays first album, Comin’ Through, is released on Imperial Records.

1966

The O’Jays become a quartet when founding member Bill Isles leaves to concentrate on songwriting.

1966

The O’Jays’ “Stand In for Love” reaches #12 on the R&B chart, the biggest hit in their three-year run at Imperial.

1967

Having moved to the Bell label, the O’Jays score a Top Ten R&B hit with “I’ll Be Sweeter Tomorrow (Than I Was Today).”

1969

While performing in New York, the O’Jays meet rising songwriter/producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. The group signs to their Neptune label, a Chess subsidiary, on which they’ll release six singles.

1971

The O’Jays become a trio when founding member Bobby Massey quits to become a record producer.

1972

The O’Jays are the first group signed to Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff’s new Philadelphia International label.

1972

“Back Stabbers,” the title track from the O’Jays’ album of the same name, enters the singles charts. This epochal crossover hit (#1 R&B, #3 pop) will establish the Philly Soul sound.

1973

“Love Train,” by the O’Jays, enters the R&B charts. It will be the group’s biggest hit, topping both the R&B and pop charts.

1973

The hit-filled Back Stabbers, by the O’Jays, becomes the first of ten gold and platinum albums for the trio.

1973

The O’Jays’ most ambitious album, Ship Ahoy, is released. The first of four O’Jays albums to sell over a million copies, it yields “Put Your Hands Together” (#2 R&B, #10 pop) and “For the Love of Money” (#3 R&B, #9 pop).

1974

The O’Jays Live in London, recorded in December 1973, is released.

1975

Family Reunion, by the O’Jays, cements their reign as kings of Philly Soul, yielding the disco anthem “I Love Music” (#1 R&B, #5 pop).

1976

Sammy Strain replaces an ailing Walter Powell in the O’Jays. He’ll remain with the group until 1993, when he rejoined Little Anthony and the Imperials.

1976

Message in Our Music, by the O’Jays, is released. It contains three #1 R&B hits

1977

Walter Powell of the O’Jays dies of cancer at his home in Canton, Ohio.

1978

“Use Ta Be My Girl,” by the O’Jays, enters the R&B charts, which it will top for five weeks. It will also reach #4 on the pop chart and propel the album So Full of Love to #6.

1987

“Lovin’ You,” by the O’Jays, enters the R&B charts. It will become the final #1 hit in their fifteen-year run with songwriter/producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff.

1991

The O’Jays release Emotionally Yours, which yields a trio of Top Five R&B hits

1998

The O’Jays receive the Rhythm & Blues Foundation’s Pioneer Award at a ceremony in New York. Eddie Levert’s son Gerald is their presenter.

2005

The O’Jays are inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

The O'Jays