The O’Jays formed fresh from high school in 1959 and named themselves after Eddie O’Jay, a disc-jockey on Radio WABQ in their hometown of Cleveland, Ohio.
The group was a quintet back then and they made their first record – Do The Wiggle – for King Records in Cincinnati.
In 1962 they recorded Lonely Drifter which made the Billboard Hot 100, as did three other 45s they recorded for Imperial: Lipstick Traces (long a Northern Soul favourite), I’ve Cried My Last Tear, and Stand In For Love.
They moved to Bell Records in New York where, with the aid of producer George Kerr and arranger Richard Tee, they turned out things like I’ll Be Sweeter Tomorrow and I Dig Your Act.
As the years went by, Bobby Massey and Bill Isles dropped out, with Massey going into record production.
A large part of the success of The O’Jays was down to their production team, Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff of Philadelphia International Records, and to writers and arrangers like Thom Bell, Bobby Martin, and Bunny Sigler.
The combination gave them three American smash hits – Back Stabbers, 992 Arguments, and Love Train – in less than a year, and got Philadelphia International (distributed by Columbia in the States) off to an almost unprecedentedly successful start.