Williams finished high school and while on the road with the band, their station wagon broke down in Bluefield, West Virginia). The band came across a British-built Ford car known as the Zodiac (a 'luxury' version of the Ford Zephyr built in Britain, Australia and New Zealand) and changed their name. Shortly thereafter, Henry Gaston replaced Earl Gainey.
In the spring of 1959, Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs performed at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, South Carolina. Around that time, the group split and reformed. The members were Williams, Gaston, Wiley Bennett, and Charles Thomas. Later, Little Willie Morrow and Albert Hill were added. One month later, in the early summer of 1959, the band recorded in a Quonset Hut on Shakespeare Road in Columbia. The recording engineer, Homer Fesperman, recorded several tracks that the band had hoped would fetch them a hit. One of the last tracks that they recorded that day was "Stay", a song that Williams had written a couple of weeks before. Williams sang lead and Henry Gaston sang the counter-verse falsetto.
After taking the demo of "Stay" to Al Silver at Herald Records in New York City, the song was pressed and released in early 1960. At 1:36, "Stay" is the shortest recording ever to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States.
At the end of 1963, the British band the Hollies covered "Stay", which gave the group their debut Top Ten hit single in the UK, peaking at No.8 in January 1964, three years after the Zodiacs' version had peaked at No.14 on the U.K. charts (January 1961). Later versions of "Stay", by the Four Seasons (1964) and Jackson Browne
(1978), reached the Top 20 in the U.S., each selling over one million copies in the United States alone. The inclusion of the Zodiacs' "Stay" on the soundtrack to the film Dirty Dancing
in 1987 led to the song selling more records than it had during its original release.
A 1965 recording by the group, "May I", released by Vee Jay Records and Dee-Su Records, became, over the years, another million-selling record.
Williams continued recording, touring, and releasing music through the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. He is still active in the music industry, residing in Charlotte, North Carolina. He was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame in 2010. He also made several performances for the PBS "Doo Wop 50" show series in 2001.
- 1960 singles: Stay; I Remember; Stay with Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs (6-track EP)
- 1965 At the Beach
- 1997 Let This Night Last, produced and arranged by Ron Oates
- 2000 Back To Basics, produced and arranged by Ron Oates
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