Happy Birthday, Eddie Levert!
There are just some R&B acts that are never going to stop being a point of reference, especially those '60s and '70s singers: Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, Gladys Knight and the Pips, to name a few. The O'Jays are certainly one of them. Eddie Levert, a member of the O'Jays, turns 73 years old today (June 16).
If you've listened to hip-hop or had a grandparent complaining about how they don't make music how they used to, you've heard the O'Jays at some point. The group of friends -- Eddie Levert, Walter Williams and William Powell -- had a hit with 1963's "Lonely Drifter." They wouldn't reach their peak until a decade later when they signed with the label Philadelphia International and teamed up with Gamble & Huff, a team of songwriters. The O'Jays moved to the forefront of Philadelphia Soul off the strength of a number of hits -- 1972's "Backstabbers," 1973's "Love Train," 1974's "For the Love of Money" and their final huge hit, 1978's "Use ta Be My Girl."
The O'Jays are still rolling, but Levert has seen more than his fair share of tragedy. Gerald Levert, his son and member of the R&B supergroup LSG, which included Keith Sweat and Johnny Gill, passed away at the age of 40 because of a fatal combination of prescription narcotics and over-the-counter drugs. His other son, Sean Levert, was 39 when he passed away from sarcoidosis complications. Through the unfathomable losses, Eddie has had the support of generations of fans.
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