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Maurice Williams & The Zodiacs

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Biography

This R&B vocal group from Lancaster, South Carolina, USA, was led by Maurice Williams (b. 26 April 1938, Lancaster, South Carolina, USA; pianist/songwriter). The hit record ‘Stay’, which went to number 3 R&B and number 1 pop in 1960, immortalized the Zodiacs as a one-hit-wonder group. (In the UK ‘Stay’ went to number 14 in 1961.) Williams, however, had a long history before and after the hit, forming his first group, the Gladiolas, in 1955. Besides Williams (b. 26 April 1938, Lancaster, South Carolina, USA), the group comprised Earl Gainey (tenor), William Massey (tenor/baritone), Willie Jones (baritone), and Norman Wade (bass). Their one hit for the Nashville-based Excello Records was ‘Little Darlin’’, which went to number 11 R&B and number 41 pop in 1957. The record was covered with greater success by the Canadian group, the Diamonds. In 1960 Williams formed the Zodiacs, comprising Wiley Bennett (tenor), Henry Gaston (tenor), Charles Thomas (baritone), Albert Hill (double bass), and Little Willie Morrow (drums). After the unforgettable ‘Stay’ the group honoured themselves with many outstanding compositions, most notably ‘I Remember’ (number 86 pop in 1961), ‘Come Along’ (number 83 pop in 1961), and ‘May I’ (1966), but nothing close to a hit resulted. The latter song was re-recorded in 1969 by Bill Deal And The Rhondels who had a Top 40 national hit with it. The most frequently remade Williams song was ‘Stay’, which the Hollies in the UK (1963), the Four Seasons (1964), and Jackson Browne (1978) all placed on the charts. Its timeless lyric of teenage lust and angst has been passed through the decades: ‘Well your mama don’t mind, well your papa don’t mind’, leading to the punch line, ‘Oh won’t you stay, just a little bit longer’. During subsequent decades Williams sustained a career with a new group of Zodiacs, playing their classic catalogue to the Beach Music club circuit in the Carolinas.

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