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William Hart, Delfonics Lead Singer and Songwriter, Dead at 77

Photo Credit: Julius "Juice" Freeman, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons 
Music fans are in mourning after it was revealed that William “Poogie” Hart, lead singer and songwriter for sixties and seventies R&B powerhouse the Delfonics, died Thursday at the age of 77.

His son Hadi confirmed the death of the Philadelphia icon to Rolling Stone, saying the singer died from complications during surgery after being taken to Temple University Hospital because he was having trouble breathing.

He added, “His body might not be here, but his music will live forever. He was a great man, he loved his family, he loved God, and he just loved people. Great heart, great spirit. That was my dad.”

Hart was a founding member of the Delfonics along with his brother Wilbert, Randy Cain, Ritchie Daniels and Thom Bell. The group was a prominent part of the Philadelphia soul scene in the late ’60s and early ’70s and gained national notoriety in 1968 with their breakthrough hit “La-La (Means I Love You) off their eponymous debut studio album.

The single reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and sparked a long run of success for the band that saw it release five studio albums — which produced 12 Top 20 songs on the Billboard charts —between 168-1974. They also scored a Grammy for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group, Vocal or Instrumental in 1970 for their hit “Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time),”

In 1975, the Hart brothers split up along with the rest of the group.

William started his own version of the Delfonics. His brother Wilbert and Major Harris (who replaced Cain in 1971) formed another with Frank Washington. In the following decades, the groups continued to tour separately, sometimes with members jumping from one iteration to another, before a 1990s reunion brought about by a surge in the popularity of their original catalog.

Extensive samples of the group's work by hip-hop legends like the Fugees, Missy Elliott and the Notorious B.I.G. on some of the decade's biggest hits, a cover of “La-La (Means I Love You)” by pop superstar Prince on his 1996 album Emancipation and having their music featured prominently in Quentin Tarantino’s 1997 movie "Jackie Brown" renewed interest in the Delfonics.

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