Delfonics singer William “Poogie” Hart dies at 77

NEW YORK (AP) — William “Poogie” Hart, founder of the Grammy-winning trio the Delfonics, who helped write and sing a smooth tenor lead on classic “Sound of Philadelphia” ballads such as “The- La (means I love you)” and “Didn’t I (blow this time)”, died. He was 77 years old.

His son Hadi told The New York Times on Wednesday that Hart died July 14 at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia. The cause was complications during surgery.

From the late 1960s to the mid-1970s, the Delfonics had six top 40 pop hits and more than a dozen top 20 R&B hits. With Thom Bell as producer and co-writer, their sound was defined by the rich orchestral arrangements and layered harmonies – Hart sometimes rising to a falsetto – that made Philadelphia soul as essential in the 70s as the label Detroit’s Motown had been in the 70s. previous decade.

The Delfonics, whose other songs included “Ready or Not Here I Come (Can’t Hide from Love)” and “Break Your Promise”, were among the early hits of a wave of Philadelphia vocal groups that included the Spinners , the O’Jays and stylistics. Their songs remained popular long after they stopped having hits. The Delfonics have been heard on film soundtracks by Quentin Tarantino and Spike Lee and have been covered by Prince, Aretha Franklin and other artists. Nicki Minaj, the Fugees and many other artists have sampled them.

In 1971, “Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time)” won the Delfonics a Grammy for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group. They were inducted into the National Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame in 2014.

Hart was from Washington, D.C., born in 1945. He later moved to Philadelphia and began singing in bands as a teenager, and with his younger brother Wilbert Hart and Randy Cain (later replaced by Major Harris) formed the Delfonics’ forerunner, the Orthonics, in 1965. They soon heard of a local writer-arranger, Bell, who eventually worked not only with the Delfonics, but also with the Spinners and Stylistics.

The Delfonics initially broke up in the 1970s, but later toured in various combinations. Hart’s outside projects included the 2007 album “Three Tenors of Soul” with two other ’70s stars: Russell Thompkins Jr. of Stylistics and Ted Mills of Blue Magic.


This story has been corrected to change William ‘Poogie’ Hart’s birth year to 1945 from 1947.

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