Gary James' Interview With
Maurice Williams






His claim to fame is the Number One single, "Stay", which also happens to be the shortest Number One single in pop music history. "Stay" is only one minute and thirty seven seconds long. Maurice Williams and The Zodiacs were at the top of the charts with "Stay" in the summer of 1960. Where is Maurice Williams now?

Q - Do you consider yourself a one hit wonder?

A - To me, that means an artist who gets one chart buster and you never hear from him or her again. But I know in my case, when you work every week in the year, when you keep a payroll going for nine other guys and their families; well, I think you're still a hit. Of course, a hit record today would be nice, but hell, if I never get another one, just to have "Little Darlin'" and "Stay", I feel I've been truly blessed.

Q - One report has it that you've written hundreds of songs. What happened with all of the others?

A - I've written hundreds of songs since 1953, but the thing was getting them published. So, this is why I started Zodiac Productions. I have published 30 of my own works. I didn't get another "Stay", but hell, I'm trying!

Q - How long did it take you to write "Stay" and did you know you had a hit in your hands?

A - It took me about thirty minutes to write "Stay", then I threw it away. (Laughs) But, I did have a tape of it. This was about 1958. We were looking for songs to record as Maurice Williams and The Zodiacs. I was over at my girlfriend's house playing the tape of songs I had written, when her little sister said, "Please do the song with the high voice in it." I knew she meant "Stay". She was about 12 years old and I said to myself, she's the age of record buying and the rest is history. I thank God for her.

Q - When "Stay" became a hit, how did that change your life?

A - It put me in a different tax bracket. (Laughs) I could afford to get married and I did. I've been married for 31 years. We starting getting more gigs. We played the Apollo in New York. I learned everything I know today about entertaining at that theater.

Q - Who is the audience for your music today?

A - Mostly white, age 35 to 65. We still play some colleges that are into music from the 60s and the Motown sound. The movie "Dirty Dancing" gave us a new audience of smaller kids and teenagers that saw it. So now, every summer we do outdoor concerts and the young kids come and help me sing "Stay".


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