The lead singer of the Delfonics, William “Poogie” Hart, wowed a generation of music lovers with hits such as “Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time)”, and “La-La (Means I Love You).
On a weekend where Philly’s most heavenly soulful music would be recounted by Russell Thompkins, Jr. and The New Stylistics with Eddie Holman at Bucks County’s Bristol Riverside Theater, the saddest ever news was just announced. Philly’s own William “Poogie” Hart, the angelic voice and central focus of this city’s The Delfonics, passed away on Thursday night at Temple University Hospital.
Hart was 77.
The Delfonics were driven by William “Poogie” Hart and his high, creamy falsetto starting in the early 70s, not just because he was the lead voice within its four-part harmony on memory makers such as “Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time)”, “La-La (Means I Love You)”, and “Ready or Not Here I Come (Can’t Hide from Love)”. More often than not, The Delfonics’ finest moments were co-written by Hart with legendary producer and arranger Thom Bell.
“That was the voice of an angel I tell you,” Bell said to me several years ago during one of many interviews we shared. “And he knew how to write to that voice. I knew how to write to that voice.”
And though, The Delfonics didn’t keep making hits beyond their run of 70s favorites, their harmonious tone and soaring highs could be heard through the sound of 90s vocal ensembles such as Boyz II Men and DeBarge, through “Ready Or Not” being sampled by the Fugees on “The Score” and Missy Elliott on her “Sock It 2 Me” single, and “La La Means I Love You” covered by Prince on his “Emancipation” album.
Quentin Tarantino’s 1997 film Jackie Brown, made the Delfonics’ music into a major plot device when Max Cherry (Robert Forster) buys Jackie Brown (Pam Grier) a Delfonics cassette (Arista label and all) in order to woo her, only to be called out by Ordell Robbie (Samuel L. Jackson). Several years after that, the Wax Poetics Records label released “Adrian Younge Presents the Delfonics”, which featured William “Poogie” Hart’s voice, newly recorded, over a stream of producer Younge’s sumptuous ambient soul sounds, all on analog tape.
I don’t well up often over the passing of people I don’t know or love personally, but this one’s got me.