O’Jays and ‘Love Train’ Tour Stops in Guangzhou with Gladys Knight

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CANTON — The O’Jays are returning to the city where the singing group’s journey to stardom began for a concert Sept. 17 at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.

Billed as the “last stop on the love train”, the 2005 Rock & Rock Hall of Fame inductees say this is the O’Jays’ final tour. Seven-time Grammy winner Gladys Knight opens the 7 p.m. show.

The O'Jays, left to right;  Walter Williams, Sammy Strain, Eddie Levert and Bobby Massey pose for backstage photos after being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame during an induction ceremony, Monday, March 14, 2005, in New York City.  (AP Photo/Ed Betz) XMIT ORG: XEJB103 [Via MerlinFTP Drop]

Tickets, which start at $59, go on sale at 10 a.m. Monday. They can be purchased at www.hofvillage.com. For more information on stadium suites, call 330-617-8447.

“We are honored to host this special concert as a homecoming for these legendary artists,” said Mike Levy, president of operations for the Hall of Fame Village, which hosts the event.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame and Hall of Fame Village will together donate $5 from each ticket sale to the O’Jay Scholarship Fund, which supports college-bound Ohio students, according to a statement. press announcing the show.

An exhibit at Cleveland's Rock & Roll Hall of Fame tells how the O'Jays got their start as singers in Canton.  The band rose to national popularity in the 1970s and were inducted into rock hall in 2005.

Classmates at McKinley High School

The group’s ties with Canton are strong.

Classmates at McKinley High School, the original members originally formed as a doo-wop group called the Mascots, according to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

They later changed their name in tribute to Cleveland disc jockey Eddie O’Jay, who was a friend and mentor.

Although The O’Jays made several recordings in the 1960s, the band’s big hits came after teaming up with producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff.

“Known for their smooth, layered soulful vocals and elegant orchestration, The O’Jays had eight No. 1 R&B singles between 1972 and 1978,” the rock hall said during the group’s exposure.

Hit songs include “Love Train”, “For the Love of Money”, “I Love Music”, and “Back Stabbers”.

Original members of the O'Jays - Eddie Levert (center) and Walter Williams (right) pose with new member Eric Grant at William's Shaker Heights, Ohio, home September 23, 2004. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

The O’Jays currently include original members Eddie Levert Sr. and Walter Williams Sr., as well as Eric Grant, who joined the group in 1995.

About 12 years ago, the O’Jays performed at Fawcett Stadium, Tom Benson’s predecessor.

After:O’Jays fans come for a benefit concert, discover Canton as a bonus

After:People travel from near and far to attend the O’Jays family reunion

“The pinnacle of 70s soul music”

Described by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as “the pinnacle of ’70s soul music”, Levert, Williams, Sammy Strain, William Powell and Bobby Massey were inducted into rock hall as part of the O’Jays.

“They helped popularize Philadelphia soul and the work of songwriting team Gamble and Huff,” the rock hall said. “Their velvety, lush, funk-tinged sound makes them one of soul music’s finest.”

The O’Jays were inducted by pop superstar Justin Timberlake.

The O'Jays during a recording session in New York, June 1968.

The O’Jays have earned 10 gold albums, nine platinum albums, and several No. 1 songs.

Classic O’Jays songs also include “Livin’ For The Weekend”, “Put Your Hands Together” and “Use Ta Be My Girl”.

Honors also include induction into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2005 before receiving BET’s LifeTime Achievement Award in 2009. In 2013, the O’Jays were inducted into the Official R&B Music Hall of Fame.

“It’s time for us to say goodbye”

This tour crowns a long and rich career.

“This tour is a celebration of all of our lives and the struggles and joys that have brought us to today,” Levert, a Canton native, said in a prepared statement. “It’s time for us to say goodbye, and we’d like to do it in person.

“Please join us as we play the music we’ve shared together over the past 60 years, one last time.”

This album released in 1977 by The O'Jays is part of the elements exhibited at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.  The singing group, originally from Canton, was inducted into the hall in 2005.

The O’Jays’ tour dates include a Friday show in Detroit at the Aretha Franklin Amphitheater, followed by multiple shows next month, including Aug. 6 at the Lakewood Amphitheater in Atlanta; August 12 at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York; August 26 in Tampa, Fla.; September 2 in Mobile, Alabama; and September 8 in Memphis.

The band’s website indicates that more concert dates will be added.

Clothing and memorabilia of the O'Jays are on display at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.  The O'Jays were inducted into the hall in 2005.

“I heard it through the vine”

Knight, formerly of Gladys Knight and The Pips, also boasts a career filled with accolades.

Highlight songs include “Midnight Train to Georgia”, “Neither One of Us (Wants To Be The First To Say Goodbye)”, “Love Overboard”, and “I Heard It Through The Grapevine”.

Gladys Knight will be the special guest at the O'Jays concert on September 17 at the Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Guangzhou.

Gladys Knight and The Pips were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1996. Their music included doo-wop, Motown sound and 70s soul.

Knight will be among the 2022 Kennedy Center honorees in December.

Gladys Knight performs in concert at the Paramount Theater on February 22, 2022 in Austin.

Contact Ed at 330-580-8315 and [email protected] On Twitter: @ebalintREP.

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