The O'Jays are a Canton, Ohio based soul and R&B group, originally consisting of Eddie Levert (b. June 16, 1942), Walter Williams (born August 25, 1942), William Powell (January 20, 1942–May 26, 1977), Bobby Massey and Bill Isles.
Originally known as The Triumphs, and then The Mascots, the friends began recording with "Miracles" in 1961, which was a moderate hit in the Cleveland area. In 1963 they took the name "The O'Jays", in tribute to Cleveland radio disc jockey Eddie O'Jay who was part of the powerful management team of Frankie Crocker, Herb Hamlett & Eddie O'Jay, (Toop, 1991), and released "Lonely Drifter," which charted nationally.
Their debut LP was “Comin' Through.” Throughout the 1960s, they continued to chart with songs such as "Lipstick Traces" (which they performed nationally on the ABC Television program, Shivaree), "Stand In For Love," "Stand Tall," "Let It All Out," "I'll Be Sweeter Tomorrow," "Look Over Your Shoulder," "Deeper In Love With You," and "One Night Affair," along with several other regional and national Pop and R&B hits.
In 1972, they finally scored with their first million-seller, "Back Stabbers", from the album of the same name. By this time, original members Bill Isles and Bobby Massey had also departed, leaving the group a trio. This album produced several more hit singles, including "992 Arguments," "Sunshine," "Time To Get Down," and the #1 Pop smash, "Love Train".
During the remainder of the 1970's the O'Jays continued releasing chart-topping singles, including "Put Your Hands Together" (Pop #10), "For the Love of Money" (Pop #9), "Give the People What They Want", "Let Me Make Love To You", "I Love Music" (Pop #5), "Livin' for the Weekend", "Message in Our Music" and "Darlin' Darlin' Baby (Sweet Tender Love)". Original member William Powell died of cancer in 1977 at age 35.
After adding Sammy Strain (born December 9, 1941) (of Little Anthony & the Imperials), the O'Jays continued recording, though with limited success.
1978's "Use ta Be My Girl" was their final Top Five hit, though they continued placing songs on the R&B charts throughout the 1980s.
Their 1987 album, “Let Me Touch You,” was a breakthrough of sorts, and included the #1 R&B hit "Lovin' You".
Though they continued charting on the R&B charts in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the O'Jays never again achieved pop success.
In 1992, Sammy Strain left the group, and returned to the Imperials, to be replaced by Nathaniel Best, and later, by Eric Grant.
Later in the 1990s, the group did little recording, though they remained a popular live draw.
Their latest album was “Imagination” in 2004. The O'Jays were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2004, and The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005.