The O’Jays are touring history, a connection to an era and a sound that formed the soundtrack for the lives of several generations. The O’Jays are still hitting the road with the same electrifying energy they’ve had for over 50 years.
Walter Williams and Eddie Levert first met when they were the ages of 6 and 7 respectively. As teenagers in Canton, Ohio, they formed a band originally consisting of Eddie Levert, Walter Williams, William Powell, Bobby Massey and Bill Isles. In 1963, the band took the name “The O’Jays” in tribute to Cleveland radio disc jockey Eddie O’Jay. Several members have changed, but the core, original lead singers Eddie Levert and Walter Williams, continue to front the group.
In 1972, Gamble & Huff, a team of producers and songwriters with whom the O’Jays had been working for several years, signed the group to their Philadelphia International label. With this magic formula, often called The Sound of Philadelphia, The O’Jays scored the first number 1 and million-seller “Backstabbers.” Subsequently, they succeeded with various chart-topping pop and R&B singles including “Love Train”, “Put Your Hands Together”, “For The Love of Money”, “I Love Music”, “Darlin’ Darlin’ Baby (Sweet, Tender, Love)”, “Livin’ For The Weekend” and “Use Ta Be My Girl.” This success propelled The O’Jays to be the first black vocal group to perform in arenas throughout America during the 70s and 80s.
Eddie and Walter have a rare lifelong bond that few of us will ever experience; friends and partners for almost 65 years. “We still appreciate our friendship, dedication to each other and the group and our love for good music.” Walter continues, “We probably could have had great solo careers, but I don’t think either one of us could have ever have been as big as The O’Jays.” Walter Williams could be considered a hero as he has battled Multiple Sclerosis or “MS” for 30 years and continues to execute his dance moves with perfection when performing on-stage with the group. Walter is also a volunteer National Ambassador for the MS Society and a spokesperson for MS Active Source. Eddie Levert is known for his raspy voice and has a range that takes him from alto to second tenor. Levert teamed up with his son Gerald for a duet on “Baby Hold On To Me”, which hit number one on the R&B charts. Eddie has also mentored his very successful sons Gerald and Sean who became major forces in the music industry.
The O’Jays were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2005. They were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2005 and honored with BET’s Life Time Achievement Award in 2009. In 2013, they were inducted into The Official R&B Music Hall of Fame. Today, the songs of The O’Jays are still being used in many movies, commercials and TV shows. “For The Love of Money” continues to be the theme song for “The Apprentice.”
Eddie Levert Sr., Walter Williams Sr. and Eric Nolan Grant, who joined the group in 1995, continue to thrill fans today. Throughout their career The O’Jays have achieved 10 Gold albums, 9 Platinum albums and 10 #1 hits. It’s been a long journey but thanks to the fans the LOVE TRAIN is still going strong!