But doing things slowly is not Eddie Levert, Sr., Walter Williams, Sr. and Eric Nolan Grant's modus operandi. After 50+ years making such international hits as "Back Stabbers," "For The Love Of Money," "Darlin' Darlin' Baby," "Love Train," "I Love Music," "Use Ta Be My Girl"and "Have You Had Your Love Today," The O'Jays are light years away from easing up on the gas. And like fine wine, The O'Jays just get better with time. Through the years, they were blessed to have worked with the late great choreographer Cholly Adkins. Adkins taught them the importance of showmanship and how to execute their steps while still delivering their songs.
There have been "four faces" of the O'Jays. This vocal group from Canton, Ohio originated with Eddie Levert, Sr., Walter Williams, Sr., William Powell, Bobby Massey and Bill Isles and they were named after Cleveland DJ Eddie O'Jay. Isles left the group in 1965. Massey left to become a record producer in 1971 and Levert, Williams and Powell continued as a trio. Powell retired from touring due to illness in late 1975, passing at the age of 35 in 1977 and was replaced by Sammy Strain, formerly with Little Anthony & The Imperials. Strain returned to his former group in 1993 and was replaced by Nathaniel Best. After the departure in 1995 of Nathaniel Best, Eddie Levert, Sr. and Walter Williams, Sr. reached out to Eric Nolan Grant, a gifted vocalist who was already a part of the group's extended Cleveland-based musical family. Their chart-topping album "Love You To Tears" marked Grant's first appearance with the group. Says Eddie "Eric was the ideal person for the O'Jays, because he was used to working within a group. He was really a shoe-in, and he fit perfectly. With his addition, we have been able to keep our performances at a level that we're used to having-stage-wise and in the studio." "Honestly speaking, being from Cleveland, the O'Jays were our heroes," Eric reminisces. "We all looked up to the O'Jays, patterned ourselves after them. So, Gerald called me to say they were holding auditions and I got the gig. Sometimes, I'll get caught up to where I'm on stage, and I'm watching Eddie and Walt like I'm in the audience! Every now and then, Eddie and Walt has to come over to me and say, `Hey, sing!' After six years of being in the group, I am still a fan."
The stage, whether in America or on international soil, is where the O'Jays let it all out, they blow away the competition with their soulful singing and bring in "standing room" only audiences. On the road several months during a year, The O'Jays still enjoy the accolades and rave reviews of fans and media. All generations love the O'Jays, which is why their "For The Love" album, (released in 2001), was a chart-topper, and in 2002, that album was nominated for a Grammy Award. In addition to their many nominations each year for the past 43 years, The O'Jays continue to receive many awards from various shows and organizations, while still making guest appearances. Says Walter Williams, Sr., "We have three generations at our concerts...the kids, the moms and dads, and the grandmas and granddads."
Eddie Levert, Sr., Walter Williams, Sr., Eric Nolan Grant...The O'Jays...have proven time and time again that the mixture of "ol' school" and contemporary is a winning formula...a formula which always reflects the O'Jays uncompromising stance on love and relationships.
After many years of continued success, The O'Jays in addition to their music endeavors have embarked on acting careers and will begin writing a book sometime in the near future. In September 2003, they appeared in their debut film "The Fighting Temptations" starring Cuba Gooding, Jr., and Beyonce Knowles and other artists that include Angie Stone, L'il Zane, Melba Moore, and Montell Jordan
Because of Eddie and Walter's lifelong relationship, there's a bond that keeps them in good stead and strengthens their business relationship. They met when Walter was 6 and Eddie was 7. They admit they had to grow on each other because they say "they were like two wild bulls when they first became friends". They continue and say, "After many years we appreciate our friendship, our 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". Both Eddie and Walter enthusiastically say, "The O'Jays are our main love, and we never intend to leave that".
Now after over 50 years of continued success, The O'Jays , in addition to their music endeavors, have embarked on acting careers and will begin writing a book sometime in the near future. In September 2003, they appeared in their debut film "The Fighting Temptations" starring Cuba Gooding, Jr., and Beyonce Knowles and other artists that include Angie Stone, Reverend Shirley Caesar, Zane, Melba Moore, and Montell Jordan. In 2004 they recorded their latest album Imagination under the Music World label. In 2004, The O'JAYS were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in Sharon, Pa. On March 14, 2005, The O'Jays were inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, OH. "For the Love Of Money" became the theme song to the hit reality TV show "The Apprentice", starring Donald Trump, which they performed live at the taping of the shows season finale. In 2006, the O'Jays performed at the ESPY awards, hosted by Lance Armstrong. In 2009, The O'Jays were awarded BET's ‘Lifetime Achievement Award'. In 2011, The O'JAYS are still going strong, currently performing at concerts around the world. Throughout their career the O'Jays have contributed 10 Gold Albums with 9 going Platinum and 10 #1 hits. It's been a long journey; thanks to the fans the LOVE TRAIN is still going strong!
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