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Maurice Williams and The Zodiacs - JPop.com
Artist info
Maurice Williams and The Zodiacs

Maurice Williams and The Zodiacs

Maurice Williams and The Zodiacs


Maurice Williams was born in Lancaster, South Carolina in 1940. Musically inclined from an early age, he started learning the piano from his older sister in the late 1940's, practicing daily so that by the time he was 10 years. Williams had sung in church, but his interest lay more in popular music, and in 1953, he and his friends were ready to form a group that they called the Royal Charms, later to become The Zodiacs. The group's original membership Read more on Last.fm
Maurice Williams was born in Lancaster, South Carolina in 1940. Musically inclined from an early age, he started learning the piano from his older sister in the late 1940's, practicing daily so that by the time he was 10 years. Williams had sung in church, but his interest lay more in popular music, and in 1953, he and his friends were ready to form a group that they called the Royal Charms, later to become The Zodiacs. The group's original membership, in addition to Williams, included Earl Gainey (tenor, guitar) Willie Jones (baritone), William Massey (tenor, baritone, trumpet), and Norman Wade (bass). They played school events and talent shows, winning several and acquiring a local following, before they finally got a paying gig at the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post.

The year they'd started out, 1953, Williams had also written two songs that were to have a pivotal effect on his life and career, and the group's history: "Little Darling" and "Stay." The Royal Charms were popular locally but their prospects were limited. The group's first real break took place in 1956 when a Nashville disc jockey hooked them up with Ernie Young, the head of Excello Records. Williams, then only 16, bluffed his way into an audition over the phone and then had to raise money from friends and local merchants in Lancaster to make the trip to Nashville in December of 1956. The group eventually signed with Herald and their debut on that label, "Stay," sparked by a stunning falsetto performance by Shane Gaston, hit No.

1 and easily topped sales of a million. It also became the biggest hit in the history of Herald Records. Williams and the Zodiacs never had another record nearly as big as "Stay," which came out at just the right moment and seemed to sell in subsequent years at the drop of a hat, as a romantic and nostalgia favorite-by some estimates, their record has topped 10 million sales internationally. Other artists, including the Four Seasons, Jackson Browne, and Rufus & Chaka Khan, all made the top 20 or better with their respective versions of the song, and the Hollies cut it as a single at the outset of their career. The Zodiacs didn't fare as well as the song.

"I Remember," also released on Herald, never made it past No. 86 on the pop charts and didn't appear on the r&b charts at all. Neither did "Come Along," which was released in the spring of 1961 and only climbed to No. 83 on the pop charts. During the mid-1960's, the group hooked up with the New Orleans-based production team of Marshall Sehorn and Allen Toussaint.

With their guidance, the group cut a passionate, soulful recording of Williams' "May I". Unfortunately, they chose to license it to Vee Jay, which was then the most successful Black-owned record company in the world, but Vee Jay went into bankruptcy within days of the record's national release, and "May I" never recovered. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..

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