The soul pioneer died of pancreatic cancer.
His son Duane Isles revealed that the founding member of the legendary group died after a battle with cancer. Isles left the O’Jays in 1965 and would go on to marry his wife of 52 years, Laurel. Bill would return to the group in 1971 in the capacity of a tour manager until 1974. This time period marked the creation of the O’Jays’ biggest hits, including “Back Stabbers,” “Love Train,” and “For The Love Of Money.”
The O’Jays’ influence in hip-hop is well-documented with their “Back Stabbers” cut being sampled one more than one occasion by the likes of Drake, Raekwon and Gucci Mane. While “Cry Together” has found itself interpolated in cuts by Ja Rule and The Diplomats. Even the late Nipsey Hussleused the O’Jays’ “Who Am I” cut in his 2013 “All Get Right”
A public memorial service for Isles will be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday at New Venture Christian Fellowship in Oceanside followed by a public burial at Eternal Hills Memorial Park.
“Billy Isles was exceptional, not only with his voice, but with his buoyancy on stage,” said New Venture Christian Fellowship’s founding pastor, Shawn Mitchell. “Of all the thousands of congregants I’ve had the privilege of pastoring over the past three decades, Billy Isles was one of the most memorable, loving and consistently upbeat and talented individuals I have had the privilege of knowing.