Luther A. Randolph, In Memoriam

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A bold innovator and an unsung hero of the Philly soul sound, Luther A. Randolph will be missed.

When word went out that Media, PA-based producer and organist, Luther Randolph had passed, a collective ‘who?’ went up among the general population of Philly soul fans who only know Gamble and Huff and Thom Bell as the creamy sound’s architects.

Luther A. Randolph

Luther Randolph, however, was a boss with the caramel syrupy sauce (to take a taste from the Geator’s hot sauce) and a mighty barnstormer when it came to the tradition of the Philly soul-jazz organ sound.

As a label owner and producer, Randolph held the note on the independent Philadelphia soul label Harthon in the 1960s, with Johnny Stiles and Weldon McDougal III, a trio of men who also founded Dyno-Dynamic Productions.

While the former housed local artists such as The Intentions (“Don’t Forget That I Love You”), Bernard Williams & The Original Blue Notes (“It’s Needless To Say“), Irma And The Larks (“Without You Baby”) and The Volcanos (“It’s Gotta Be A False Alarm / Moving & Groovin’”), the latter production company featured the Philly likes of Marva Lee (“Can’t We Talk It Over / Lover Boy” on ATCO), The Tiffanys (“Gossip” at Atlantic) and several Nella Dodds sides on the Wand label.

Randolph also recorded on his own Harthon label, as Luther Randolph & Johnny Stiles with 1962 stone soul picnic of “Cross Roads,” with drummer Norman Connors, a label also responsible for smooth R&B classics such as Barbara Mason’s “Yes, I’m Ready” and Eddie Holman’s 1970 hit single, “Hey There, Lonely Girl.”

Luther A. Randolph

For all of his musical triumphs, Randolph – according to the Philly Inquirer – had a personal, social triumph upon meeting Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and organizing sit-ins at segregated lunch counters at a Woolworth’s store in Chester.

A bold innovator, Mr. Randolph will be missed.

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