O’Jays co-founder William Carvan Isles II, better known as Bill Isles, died last month from cancer in his Southern California home, the Los Angeles Times reports. Isles's son Duane says that he was surrounded by family members at the time of his passing. He was 78.
Before landing on their now iconic stage name, the O’Jays, following a suggestion from Cleveland DJ Eddie O’Jay in 1963, the group previously experimented with other names, like The Mascots and The Triumphs. Their times as the O’Jays coincided with upward trajectory of their career, spawning hits like "Lipstick Traces" and "Lonely Drifter," which came when Isles was a member of the group.
In 1965, Isles left the O'Jays, and married his wife of 52 years, Laurel. According to Duane, Bill returned to the group in 1971 to be their tour manager until 1974. It was during this time that the O'Jays scored some their biggest hits, including "Back Stabbers," "Love Train," and "For the Love of Money."
Their music has continued to live on, thanks to the sample culture of hip-hop. The very recognizable elements in "Back Stabbers" have been used in songs by Gucci Mane, Raekwon, and Drake, among others. The Diplomats, Curren$y, and Ja Rule are just a few of the artists who have sampled "Cry Together." The O'Jays' "Who Am I" was even used to create the 2013 track "All Get Right" by Nipsey Hussle.
Isles is survived by his wife, seven children, seven grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.