Luther A. Randolph: an unsung hero of the Philly soul sound

A bold innovator, Mr. Randolph will be missed.

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

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.”

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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