posted by Robert J. Carmack #@blues2jazzguy
Besides being a big fan since “Live at The Cadillac Club” album which was a great JAZZ album played in heavy rotation in Los Angeles during the late 60s on their prime jazz station,KBCA FM 105.1. I believe and was shocked to find that Billy was older than I thought,Also, that both, he and Barry Gordy had a connection in his early Jazz days.
But, the REAL Story for Billy was the hot new deal with “Philly-Soul Cervantes,” Gamble & Huff . Going East album (1971) was a big favorite of mine , The whole album often found itself being played over and over and over again at my house. On my tape player, turn-table and at the clubs on the juke Box, even on the bandstand by cover bands.
The “Ladies” was buzzing about this brother in the leather hat & aviator glasses singing those erotic love songs and with the pleasantly smooth voice. Talking about “LOVE BUDDIES” Followup that big hit with ME & Mrs Jones, Bam! right between the eyes! Another big album Plus!
I saw him at several clubs in L.A. in the 1970s.
2003, I was producing a Jazz Series in San Francisco, Celebrate a Legend: Jazz in July, when I found out he was due at a concert in the SF Bay area the next day. During a special night we were presenting Freddie Hubbard a Congressional Lifetime Achievement ,We brought Billy in for a surprise appearance and presented him with a lifetime award also. a congressional signature by Congresswoman Barbara Lee. That night with a packed house at the Plush Room in Knob Hill, Billy “nailed” The Old Folks” a jazz standard he performed in a cameo spot while getting his award. that was the last time I saw him live …July 2003.
He never stopped touring & singing until Now.. RIP Billy! You always knew THE RIGHT SONG for the RIGHT MOMENT!