1942 – Born on this day, Walter Williams, The O’Jays, (1973 US No.1 & UK No.9 single ‘Love Train’).
The O’Jays are a Canton, Ohio based soul and R&B group, originally consisting of Walter Williams (born 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 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 pop hit, and topped the U.S. singles charts the following year with “Love Train”.
In honor of World Multiple Sclerosis Day today, O’Jays front man Walter Williams has decided to become an advocate of the disease and go public with his ongoing battle.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee — known for classic soul hits including ‘For the Love of Money,’ which is the theme song of Donald Trump’s reality show ‘The Apprentice’ — revealed to Reuters that he has maintained an active life despite being diagnosed nearly three decades ago.
“I have done well with MS, and I want other sufferers to know that they too can lead a normal life,” the 67-year-old crooner said. “Why now? Well, it’s a good time to come out and let people know there is medication for this now that helps a great deal. When I was diagnosed, they told me I had 20 years to live and there was no cure, but it has all changed.”
In the midst of touring the world and cranking out hits for Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff’s Philadelphia International Records, Williams initially began to feel the effects of the inflammatory autoimmune disease in 1983, including numbness in his feet, legs and torso — all of which led to his diagnoses at the age of 39