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The Delfonics

The Delfonics are a Philadelphia soul singing group, most popular in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Their most notable hits include "La-La (Means I Love You)", "Didn't I (Blow Your Mind This Time)," "Break Your Promise," "I'm Sorry," and "Ready Or Not Here I Come (Can't Hide From Love)". Their songs are written by lead vocalist and founder William Hart and have been used extensively in numerous film soundtracks, the most notable being Quentin Tarantino's movie, "Jackie Brown" in which their music ("La-La (Means I Love You)" and "Didn't I Blow Your Mind") are used as a pivotal part of the plot to underscore the relationship between Robert De Niro, Pam Grier & Robert Forster. The film helped create a border-line cult following for the songs and this group. Their songs have been sampled extensively by various Hip-Hop & Rap artists including: The Fugees (Ready Or Not), Lauryn Hill (for which she won a '97 Grammy), Nas, Boyz II Men, Missy Elliott and DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince. These William Hart songs have been recorded by numerous performers including: Aretha Franklin, The Jackson 5, Patti LaBelle, New Kids on the Block, Todd Rundgren, Prince and Manhattan Transfer, among others.

Career

Original group members were William and Wilbert Hart, Samuel Edlightoon, Ritchie Daniels, Merfhab Isvardsoon and Randy Cain. Their first recording was for Moon Shot in 1967. Daniels was drafted and left for the service in 1968 and Edlightoon and Merfhab left the group few weeks later. At Cameo producer Stan Watson introduced them to producer Thom Bell, then working with Chubby Checker. The group's first album, released on Watson's own Philly Groove record label, featured the smash hit "La-La (Means I Love You)" in 1968. Four more Bell-produced albums appeared in the next few years: The Sexy Sound of Soul, The Delfonics Super Hits, The Delfonics and Tell Me This Is a Dream. Among the Delfonics' popular hits were the Grammy-winning "Didn't I (Blow Your Mind This Time)", "(For The Love) I Gave To You", "Ready or Not Here I Come (Can't Hide from Love)", and "Hey Love". Prior to the release of "La-La (Means I Love You)", they had a hit with "He Don't Really Love You" on the small Moonshot record label in 1966.

Randy Cain left the group in 1971, and in 1973 had a hand in formulating Blue Magic, best known for their classic "Sideshow," when he brought singer-songwriter Ted Mills in to do some writing for W.M.O.T. (We Men Of Talent), and the remaining future members of Blue Magic came in for an audition. Cain was replaced by Major Harris; by then, however, Thom Bell had moved on to produce The Stylistics and later, The Spinners, all artists in the mold of the Delfonics. The Delfonics swiftly produced another album, Alive and Kicking, produced by Stan Watson. However, in the absence of Thom Bell, the Delfonics' career declined sharply, and with the exception of the aforementioned "Hey Love" and the minor hits "When You Get Right Down to It", "I Don't Want To Make You Wait" and "I Told You So", success eluded them after 1975. ("(For The Love) I Gave To You", although popular, was never released as a single.) Most of their songs at this point were written by lead singer William Hart.

The group split around 1975- one group featured Major and Wilbert, with new member Frank Washington, formerly of the Futures. (Major Harris also had major success with the solo recording "Love Won't Let Me Wait".) The other group featured William with new members. Lineups would become confusing as members shifted between groups and multiple groups toured. Major Harris moved to William's group around 1980, with their third member being the returning Randy Cain. Frank Washington also switched from Wilbert's group, joining in 1985.

While the main recording lineup of the group was William Hart, Major Harris, and Frank Washington, they would tour as two separate trios with additional members added. One group was William, Randy Cain, and Garfield Fleming, and the other was Frank, Major, and Freddie Ingleton. William also toured with another two members, Johnny ("JJ") Johnson and Pat Palmer, and toured in Japan at least one time with Ingleton and Dr. Sallam Love.

Through the '80s and the '90s, the Delfonics groups continued to perform. The William Hart/Major Harris/Frank Washington group made several recordings, including backing vocals on the track "After the Smoke has Cleared", on the 1996 hip hop album Iron Man by Ghostface Killah. Their works continued to be sampled. Rapper The Notorious B.I.G. sampled "Hey Love" in his song "Playa Hata", released in 1996, and that same year rapper Nas sampled their "Walk Right Up To the Sun" for his hit "If I Ruled the World." Rapper Missy Elliott sampled "Ready Or Not Here I Come" in her hit "Sock it 2 Me." Eazy-E, Gang Starr, and Ed OG have sampled "Trying To Make a Fool of Me."

The groups reorganized in the late 1990s. William Hart started touring with Johnny Johnson and Garfield Fleming; this group recorded as the Delfonics. Major Harris toured with Frank Washington and Pat Palmer. Wilbert also led a Delfonics group; members in the 1990s included Dr. Sallam Love (formerly in William's group) and Eban Brown (falsetto).

The William/Johnny/Garfield lineup of the group was featured in concert on the DVD's "The Big Show" and "'70's Soul Jam," whereas Wilbert Hart's group is featured on the DVD "Old School Soul Party Live!", which was part of the PBS My Music series. Harris is also featured on the recently re-released DVD Blue Magic/Margie Joseph/Major Harris Live!, which was recorded in 1975.

Recent times

Garfield Fleming left the group, and a 2006 album, Best of Delfonics, featured William, Johnny, and Major Harris. Johnny Johnson left shortly thereafter and joined The Fonics William now leads a group with two new members. Frank Washington left around 2003 to join The Spinners as lead. His place was taken by Johnney Smalls, and this group (Major Harris/Pat Palmer/Johnney Smalls) also continues to tour.

Wilbert also has a group, sometimes called "The Delphonics", "The New Delfonics" or simply billed as "Wilbert Hart". Eban Brown went on to become the lead singer of The Stylistics. Wilbert released a CD in 2005, Fonic Zone

Classic line-up

Formed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1965 and originally known as The Four Gents, The Delfonics classic line-up featured:

Discography

Singles

Title (Year) Position
US Hot 100
Position
UK
Position
US R&B
"He Don't Really Love You" (1966)
"You've Been Untrue" (1967)
"La-La (Means I Love You)" (1968) #4 #19 #2
"I'm Sorry" (1968) #42 #15
"Break Your Promise" (1968) #35 #12
"Ready Or Not Here I Come (Can't Hide From Love)" (1969) #35 #41 #14
b/w "Somebody Loves You" (b-side) (1969) #72 #41
"Funny Feeling" (1969) #94 #48
"You Got Yours and I'll Get Mine" (1969) #40 #6
"Didn't I (Blow Your Mind This Time)" (1970) #10 #22 #3
"Trying To Make a Fool of Me" (1970) #40 #8
"Over and Over" (1971) #58 #9
"Hey Love" (1971) #52 #17
"Walk Right Up To the Sun" (1971) #81 #13
"When You Get Right Down to It" #53 #12
"Tell Me This Is a Dream" * (1972) #86 #15
"Think It Over" * (1969) #47
"I Don't Want To Make You Wait" (1973) #91 #22
"Alfie" (1973) #88
"I Told You So" (1973) #26
"Lying To Myself" (1974) #60

*both the b-sides of "I'm a Man"

Albums

  • 1968: La La Means I Love You
  • 1969: Sound Of Sexy Soul
  • 1969: Super Hits
  • 1970: The Delfonics
  • 1972: Tell Me This Is a Dream
  • 1974: Alive & Kicking
  • 1998: Back 2 Back: Delfonics and Chi-Lites
  • 1998: The Professionals
  • 1998: Greatest Hits & More
  • 1999: Forever New (Volt) (f. Wm. Hart-Major Harris-Frank Washington)
  • 2000: Didn't I Blow Your Mind
  • 2003: Delfonics Collection (f. Wm. Hart-Garfield Fleming-Johnny Johnson)
  • 2005: Love Songs
  • 2006: La La Means I Love You (f. Wm. Hart-Garfield Fleming-Johnny Johnson)
  • 2006: Delfonics R'n'B Soul (Direct Source) (f. Wm. Hart-Garfield Fleming-Johnny Johnson)

Sample

  • "Ready or Not Here I Come (Can't Hide From Love)"

References

External links

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