Brett Jolly’s Daily Thought (“Remembering my personal experiences with Billy Paul”)

Legendary singer Billy Paul just passed away at the age of 81. He was a former boss of mine who I traveled and toured with for quite a while. He had arguably one (or two) of the biggest hits in history with “Your song” and his classic “Me and Mrs. Jones.” While he accomplished a lot musically, he also was a great humanitarian and he would give the shirt off his back to just about anyone in need. He was never too big to reach out to someone to encourage them, and everyone who ever worked with him will tell you that. He was born “Paul Williams” but the bosses at Philly International records thought his name was “too plain,” henceforth they reversed it around and named him “Billy Paul.”  Billy was brought up on the streets of North Philadelphia and at some point he became a product of that environment. Billy had a great career, but he also had a major “drug habit.” He told me many stories about him hanging out with Sly Stone, Marvin Gaye and Richard Pryor (all well known drug addicts) and getting high together. There were times when he was so high that he had to be “directed to the microphone” just to sing his show. The great thing about life is that it is not about “how you start” but rather about “how you finish.” Billy had been clean and sober for years and was a great role model for those suffering through the vices of addiction. Billy was “funny.” On a 10 hour plane ride to Brazil you could hear him cracking jokes the “entire time.” My cheeks would hurt from  laughing so hard. There is not enough time in a day to tell you “all” the great stories about him, but I think the most important thing to know is that “Billy cared.” He was caring to a fault some times, because he never wanted to turn anyone away. Overseas his career was “much bigger” than it was here in the United States. Overseas he would perform in huge coliseums and here in the states he would do much more “moderate gigs.” He was still a prankster and a joker, one day asking me to store a bottle of wine in my bag for him. I told him that I was the worst one to trust because “everyone knew that I didn’t drink” and they would eventually figure out that I smuggled the bottle for him. The ironic part of his career was that even though he had major drug issues he still managed to “outlive” most of the other artists at Philly International “records. His last performance was a little of a month ago, and I played for him at the Clef Club here in Philadelphia. I saw the video but I can’t figure out how to upload it yet. Once I do, I will post it here. In the meantime, I am posting an interview that I actually videoed at Phillycam here in downtown Philly. My camera filmed this video and it is a very in depth interview of Billy Paul. I hope you enjoy it, and my deepest condolences to his family. May he rest eternally in God’s hands.

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