The Philly soul sound of The O’Jays hits Hard Rock Live at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on July 14 at 8 p.m. Tickets go on sale Friday, June 17 at noon.
American living legends The O’Jays epitomized the Philly soul sound – smooth, rich harmonies backed by elaborate arrangements, lush strings, and a touch of contemporary funk. The band has a 40-year body of work that includes over 60 albums, 24 Top Ten smashes and 59 total charted songs including “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.”
This vocal group from Canton, Ohio originated with Eddie Levert, Sr., Walter Williams, Sr., William Powell, Bobby Massey and Billy Isles. Levert and Williams’ can trace their lifelong friendship back to ages six and seven. Inspired to start a singing group after seeing a performance by Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers, they first called themselves the Triumphs, then switched to the Mascots in 1960. The Mascots made their recording debut in 1961 with the single “Miracles.” It earned them a fan in the influential Cleveland DJ Eddie O’Jay, who gave them some airplay and career advice. In turn, the group renamed itself the O’Jays. The O’Jays first charted hit was 1963’s “Lonely Drifter.” Shortly, thereafter, Isles left the group making them a quartet. Massey then left to become a record producer in 1971 and Levert, Williams and Powell continued as a trio.
After signing with Philadelphia International, the O’Jays 1972 label debut, Back Stabbers, became a classic landmark of Philly soul and made the group stars. The title track hit the pop Top Five, and the utopian “Love Train” went all the way to #1 (both singles topped the R&B charts). It was the beginning of a remarkable run that produced nearly 30 chart singles over the course of the ’70s, plus a series of best-selling albums and a bevy of #1 hits on the R&B charts.
In 1975, Powell was diagnosed with cancer, and although he continued to record with the group for a time (appearing on 1976’s Message in Our Music), he was forced to retire from live performing, and passed away on May 26, 1977. Powell was replaced by Sammy Strain, formerly with Little Anthony & The Imperials followed by Nathaniel Best and ultimately Eric Nolan Grant.
The multi-talented O’Jays co-starred in the movie The Fighting Temptations, alongside Cuba Gooding Jr. and Beyonce Knowles. In 2005, the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and in 2009
the O’Jays were honored with BET’s 2009 Lifetime Achievement Award.
Tickets cost $69, $59 and $49*; all seats are available at the Hard Rock Live Box Office, Tuesday – Saturday from noon – 6 p.m. and Sunday – Monday only open on event days at noon. Tickets also are available at all Ticketmaster outlets online at www.ticketmaster.com or charge by phone: 1-800-745-3000. Doors open one-hour prior to show start time. *Additional fees may apply.