Philly Falsetto: Happy Birthday To The Delfonics’ William “Poogie” Hart
The Delfonic’s William Hart was born today (January 17, 1945).
With his brother Wilbert Hart and original member Randy Cain, the group took the sound of Philadelphia international behind a string of hits like “La, La Means I Love You,” “Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time)” and others.
The Delfonics formed around 1964, at Overbrook High School in Philadelphia. They were initially a five-man group known as The Orphonics, founded by brothers William Hart (17) and Wilbert Hart (15).
In 1966, the group came to the attention of Stan Watson, a Philadelphia “street hustler” who contacted lengedary producer/arranger Thom Bell and got the group an audition.
Bell was unhappy with the original lead singers and took a special interest in the voice of the group’s guitar player, William “Poogie” Hart.
When Bell discovered Hart’s soaring falsetto and anointed him new lead singer, the original two lead singers protested and left.
The Hart brothers and group member Randy Cain were rechristened “The Delfonics.”
In the summer of 1966, Bell produced the group’s first hit “He Don’t Really Love You.” Because the budget was tight, Bell played all the instruments on the track.
The record showcased and solidified the city of Philadelphia’s long line of Falsetto singers, that started with Al Banks and The Turbans.
Other practitioners include Eddie Holman, The Stylistics, Blue Magic, The Capris, The Castelles and numerous others.
The next year, Watson formed the Philly Groove record label and released the Thom Bell produced hit single, “La, La Means I Love You.”
The single shot to #4 on both the Pop and R&B charts.
The Delfonics struggled to match the success of “La La Means I Love You” until 1970, when they hit with “Didn’t I,” which sold a million copies and won a Grammy Award.
A dispute over royalties between The Delfonics, Stan Watson and Thom Bell eventually took a toll on the group, although they continued to churn out minor hits like “Walk Right Up To the Sun” with new group member Major Harris.
The Delfonics could also be controversial.
In September of 1970, members of the group’s entourage were busted when cops raided their Atlantic City hotel room and found three guns, a three-inch plastic tube with a fuse on it, 12 drivers licenses, travelers checks totaling $4,000 and narcotics paraphernalia.