John Soeder, The plain Dealer"I said, "OK -- if you"re gonna obtain me, you"re gonna acquire me fighting back," " claims R&B singer Walter Williams the the O"Jays, quiet going strong 27 year after he was very first diagnosed v multiple sclerosis.

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Walter Williams to be driving ago from an O'Jays gig in Buffalo, N.Y., when he felt the strange sensation. The hit-making R&B group had just gotten brand-new stage outfits, therefore he figured possibly his brand-new shoes were also tight.

But the numbness quickly spread native his toe to his entire foot come his leg, in the middle of an O'Jays tour.

"I probably stopped in every hospital in every city, trying to uncover out what was going on," Williams said.

A physician in Los Angeles figured out that Williams had multiple sclerosis. The diagnosis was shown at the sdrta.net Clinic.

He gained the bad news in 1983, just before his 40th birthday. Now, virtually three years later, this Rock and Roll hall of Famer native Shaker Heights is talk publicly because that the first time about his struggle with MS, the inflammatory autoimmune disease that attacks the central nervous system. (Williams is a payment spokesman because that Biogen Idec, a biotechnology company that manufactures the MS medicine Avonex, which that takes.)

"I moped approximately the house for 3 or four weeks, really afraid, not learning what to be going to take place to me," stated Williams, 66.

"Then I got pissed. . . . I started exercising, lifting weights to ton up and also make my body stronger, trying to eat better.

As a boy, Williams sang alongside Eddie Levert at St. Mark Baptist Church in Canton, wherein Williams' father was the choir director.

Williams and also Levert began the O'Jays in the so late 1950s. They tape-recorded for miscellaneous record companies, back the group didn't take it off till it hooked up with the songwriting-production team that Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. The duo's Philadelphia worldwide label exit an impressive run of access time by the O'Jays in the '70s, consisting of the top 10 singles "Back Stabbers," "Love Train" and "For the Love the Money."

Canton"s O"Jays had a cable of top 10 singles in the 1970s. Native left are Eddie Levert, Walter Williams and also the late william Powell, who died in 1977. Round off out the existing lineup is Eric Grant.

MS made it exceedingly complicated for Williams to save up with the group's demanding tourism schedule and also intricate onstage choreography, yet he soldiered on.

"We perform a lot of turns and spins, stuff choose that, and it was a consistent effort not to shed my balance," the said.

"When ns touched mine legs, it felt like I was touching this," the said, reaching out to lb on a little table through a rock top.

"It just felt awful. . . . It would come and it would continue to be a year or two, climate it would go away. That was the weirdest thing to me. I always thought it was something ns was doing the made it walk away, or made the come back. This walk on because that years. I discovered out later that I had nothing to execute with that -- it's just one of the characteristics of MS."

Williams started taking Avonex 12 year ago. He credits his weekly shoot of the drug for helping to organize the an illness at bay.

"Other 보다 the side effects -- flu-like symptoms the go far after maybe 10 hrs -- it's fine," that said.

"I'm able come do everything I desire to do. Once we're performing, I can do high-energy and Eddie or Eric can. Ns play golf every day, too, once the weather is nice.

Good enough, actually, to get approximately to record his solo debut, "Walter Williams: Exposed." He's weighing a distribution deal and also hopes to have the album out this summer.

It will incorporate two initial songs through Williams, "It's raining Outside" and also "There's No Doubt in my Mind," and also showcase his soulful bass-baritone voice ~ above string-laden, horn-embellished renditions that "My Way," "What a wonderful World," "When I loss in Love" and also other standards.

"I'm exposing mine feelings and also myself by stepping out choose this, and I'm kind of a embarrassy guy," Williams said. "Being in the head puts me on prior street, which I never ever liked before. Yet it's time to do it."

The O'Jays are maintaining Williams busy, too. They newly performed in brand-new York, Detroit and Chicago, and also there is talk of do a Christmas album and a brand-new studio album.

"He was an extremely supportive," Williams said. "He stated I have to tell people around this, since this is not just some normal -- ns can't usage the indigenous he offered -- this is not just normal stuff. He claimed I must tell people about this, to encourage them."

"Eat right, exercise and also seek treatment. . . . You can live a common life. You have the right to live a good life.

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