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Maurice Williams
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    (April 26, 1938- )
    Born in Lancaster, South Carolina
    Led Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs
    Recorded the singles ‘Little Darlin’’ (1957) and ‘Stay’ (1960)
    His backing group changed names from the Junior Harmonizers to the Royal Charmers to the Charmers to the Gladiolas to the Excellos before finally settling on the Zodiacs.
    He initially did not think much of ‘Stay,’ even throwing the lyrics into the trash at one point.
    He was a one-hit wonder, with ‘Stay’ his only Top 40 hit.
    At one minute, 36 seconds, ‘Stay’ is the shortest record to hit #1 on Billboard’s singles chart.
    He was indirectly responsible for the Halloween novelty hit ‘Monster Mash’: one day Bobby Pickett did the spoken part in ‘Little Darlin’’ using a Boris Karloff voice, prompting friends to suggest that he record an entire song in that style.
    He formed the group in high school.
    He was not planning to be the lead singer, but when the group travelled to Tennessee to audition for a record label, the mother of the original lead singer refused to let him go.
    ‘Little Darlin’’ was a big hit on the R&B chart but fell victim to the then-common practice of having songs by black acts covered by white performers (in this case, the Diamonds, who had a #2 pop hit with it).
    ‘Stay’ sold eight million records (thanks in part to renewed interest after it was included in ‘Dirty Dancing’).
    ’Stay’ was also a hit for the Hollies (1963), the Four Seasons (1964), and Jackson Browne (1978).

Credit: C. Fishel

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