The Delfonics

The Delfonics were a quintessential Philadelphia soul singing group, most popular in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Brothers William and Wilbert Hart formed the group with Randy Cain in high school in the early 1960s. Soon, they became known throughout the Philadelphia area, signing with Cameo Records. At Cameo, Stan Watson introduced them to the man who made them famous, producer Thom Bell, then working with Chubby Checker. Bell dreamed of creating a Phildelphia version of Motown and struck gold with the Delfonics, whose first album, released on Watson's own Philly Groove label, featured the 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 "Didn't I (Blow Your Mind This Time)", "Lying to Myself", and "Ready or Not Here I Come (Can't Hide from Love)".

Philadelphia soul was smoother than traditional soul, strongly influenced by Phil Spector's "Wall of Sound" production, but solidly based in the doo-wop sounds of the 1950s. Randy Cain left the group in 1971, to be replaced by Major Harris; by then, however, Thom Bell had moved on to produce the first album for The Stylistics. 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 the band was effectively over by 1975.

Wilbert Hart also left around this time leaving William Hart as the only original member. New members were brought in, and the group continued for some time. The group then broke up and reformed with William Hart, Randy Cain, and Major Harris. (Wilbert Hart formed his own Delfonics group; the members were Wilbert, Eban Brown (falsetto lead), and Dr. S. Love.) Randy Cain left for a second time, and was replaced by Frank Washington.

Their music enjoyed a mild renaissance in the mid-1990s when Quentin Tarantino used "La La Means I Love You" and "Didn't I (Blow Your Mind This Time)" in a pivotal role in the film Jackie Brown. "Ready or Not Here I Come (Can't Hide from Love)" served as the basis of two hit hip hop singles: Lauryn Hill integrates the chorus into the chorus for The Fugees' 1996 hit "Ready or Not", and Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott and Timbaland sampled the ominous string/horn intro for Elliott's hit 1997 "Sock It to Me".

The current lineup of the Delfonics is William Hart, Garfield Fleming (baritone lead) and Johnny Johnson. Wilbert also has a group, sometimes called the "Delphonics", the "New Delfonics", or sometimes simply billed as "William Hart".


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