Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs was a group that performed under a variety of names until finally hitting the big time in 1960. They only reached the top forty once, but they did it with a wildly popular record.
They were formed in Lancaster, South Carolina by piano player/lead singer/songwriter Maurice Williams as the Royal Charms. The original members of the group were Williams, Willie Jones, Earl Gainey, William Massey, and Norman Wade. They won a talent contest in Lancaster and began to perform at various locations along the eastern seaboard.
The group changed its name to the Gladiolas. They recorded a song in Nashville on the Excello label that Williams had written titled Little Darlin' and it made the top 50. When the Canadian group the Diamonds quickly recorded a cover, that version of Little Darlin' made it to number two on the charts in early 1957. The Gladiolas then became the Excellos, named for their record label.
In 1959, they once again changed their name, this time to the Zodiacs, a name that stuck. The following year the group was re-formed. The new lineup included Maurice Williams, Wiley Bennett, Charles Thomas, Little Willie Morrow, Albert Hill and Henry Gaston. Their big hit was just around the corner. Recording as Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs on the Herald record label, they recorded a very brief song Williams had written titled Stay. A classic rock-and-roll record, Stay climbed to number one in late 1960 and staked its claim as the shortest recording ever to go to the top.
The group followed up with more records that sounded somewhat like their biggest hit, including I Remember and Come Along. They were minor hits. Maurice Williams went on to record some solo songs later in his career.
It is Stay that has remained as the song that is identified with Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs. Over the years the song has been re-done by other artists who had a hit with it also, including the Hollies, the 4 Seasons, and Jackson Browne.
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