Billy Paul rose to the top of the charts with his #1 single “Me and Mrs. Jones” in 1972. But before finding international fame, the late soul music legend struggled for years in obscurity.
TV One’s music documentary series Unsung looks back on the Grammy-winning singer’s life this weekend, including Paul’s work in the Civil Rights movement, the making of “Me and Mrs. Jones” and the singer’s struggles with substance abuse.
The Philadelphia native’s wife and manager, Blanche Williams, tells Unsung the success that followed the release of “Me and Mrs. Jones” changed Paul’s life.
“It absolutely changed everything,” she says. “Like a lot of people, he started smoking weed, we thought that was cool. Then the cocaine came, later.”
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Williams says the drug use got worse as Paul toured around the world.
“When you are flying to Brazil for 18, 20 hours to get where you’re going, and you are so tired and jet lagged and weary that you cannot sleep, it’s almost like you were programmed to do something to get you up, because you can’t go on stage like that,” she explains. “Then you need something to take you down so that you can sleep.”
The Unsung episode on Billy Paul airs Sunday, March 29 at 10 p.m. ET/9C.