Maurice Williams & the Zodiacs were an American doo-wop/R&B
vocal group, active during the late 1950s and early 1960s.
Originally "The (Royal) Charms", the band changed its name
to "The Gladiolas" in 1957 and then "The Excellos" in 1958,
before finally settling on "The Zodiacs" in 1959.
Williams was born April 26th, 1938 in Lancaster, South Carolina.
He had his first experience with music in the church, where his
mother and sister both performed. By the time he was six,
Williams was performing regularly there. With his childhood
friend Earl Gainey, Williams formed the gospel group...
'The Junior Harmonizers', but as rock 'n' roll and doo-wop
became their primary interest, the Junior Harmonizers
changed their name to 'The Royal Charms'.
The Royal Charms and The Gladiolas... In addition to Williams
and Gainey, The Royal Charms were made up of Willie Jones
(baritone), William Massey (tenor, baritone, trumpet), and
Norman Wade (bass). In the winter of 1956, while still in high
school, Williams and his band traveled to Nashville, Tennessee
to record for the Excello record label. At the time they were
still going by the name 'The Royal Charms,' but the founder
of Excello Records, Ernie Young, convinced them to change
their name to 'The Gladiolas.' At the time, there were at least
two other bands using the same name.
The song "Little Darlin'" was a #11 hit on the R&B chart in
1957, but did not break the Billboard Hot 100's Top 40.
However, when the song was covered by the Canadian
group 'The Diamonds', it moved up to #2.
Maurice Williams finished high school and while on the road
with the band (after their station wagon broke down in
Bluefield, West Virginia), the band came across a small car
known as "The Zodiac" and the band changed their name
-one last time, to, "Maurice Williams & The Zodiacs".
Shortly thereafter, Henry Gatson replaced Earl Gainey. In the
spring of 1959, Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs performed
at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, South Carolina.
Around that time, the group split and reformed. The members
were then Williams, Gatson, Wiley Bennett, and Charles Thomas.
Later, Little Willie Morrow along with Albert Hill were added.
One month later, in the early summer of 1959, the band
recorded in a Quonset Hut on Shakespeare Road in Columbia...
The recording engineer, Homer Fesperman, recorded several
tracks that the band had hoped would fetch them a hit...
One of the last tracks that they recorded that day was "Stay,"
a song that Williams had written a couple of weeks before.
After taking the demo of "Stay" to Al Silver at Herald Records
in New York City, the song was pressed and released in early 1960.
"Stay" is the shortest recording ever to reach Number One on
the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States - at 1:39, although
the label read 1:50.
Later versions of "Stay" recorded by The Four Seasons (1964),
and Jackson Browne (1978) also reached the Top 20, each selling
over one million copies in the United States alone.
At the end of 1963, British band "The Hollies" covered "Stay", which
gave the group their debut Top Ten hit single in the UK, peaking at #8.
The inclusion of "Stay" on the soundtrack to the film "Dirty Dancing"
in 1987 led to the song selling even more records than it had during
its original release in 1960.
A 1961 recording by "Maurice Williams & The Zodiacs", "May I",
also released by Herald Records, eventually became another
million selling record.
Maurice Williams continued recording, touring, and releasing
music through the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s.
Maurice still tours, performing at over 150 show-dates per year
and is still very active in the music industry.
Written by: Maurice Williams BMI
Performed by: Maurice Williams & The Zodiacs
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