William ‘Poogie’ Hart, Lead Singer of Soul Group the Delfonics, Dies

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The Delfonics performing on Soul Train, circa 1970

William “Poogie” Hart, a founder and lead singer of the Philadelphia-based soul group the Delfonics, who scored hits with such songs as “La-La (Means I Love You)” and “Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time),” which he wrote with the producer Thom Bell, died yesterday (July 14, 2022). Hart was 77 and died at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia, following complications during surgery, per TMZ.

Hart, born Jan. 17, 1945, was inspired by the recordings by Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers and Little Anthony & the Imperials, and organized his first singing group at the age of fourteen, initially performing at local parties and dances, and then at area clubs. He formed the Orphonics with his brother Wilbert Hart and then, with Randy Cain, the Delfonics. The group became known for its beautiful harmonies, choreographed dancing at its live performances, and colorful outfits of the era.

From 1968 until the early ’70s, the Delfonics charted more than a dozen singles on the R&B and pop charts, none bigger than “La-La (Means I Love You),” which reached #4 on the Hot 100 and #2 on the soul chart.

Watch a vintage television performance of the song

“La-La” was later recorded by such stars as Prince, Todd Rundgren and the Jackson 5, among others.

After several other successes, including “Ready or Not Here I Come (Can’t Hide From Love)” later that year, they returned to the top of the charts with “Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time).” The single reached #10 pop and #3 R&B in 1970 and earned the group the Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance By a Duo or Group.

Watch them perform the song on Soul Train

Cain left the group in the early ’70s, replaced by Major Harris. The group subsequently split into two around 1975, each led by one of the Hart brothers and with multiple lineups. Cain and Harris have passed; Wilbert Hart, born Oct. 19, 1947, survives his brother.

Related: Musicians that we’ve lost in 2022

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11 Comments so far

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  1. Timflyte
    #1 Timflyte 16 July, 2022, 08:59

    What fantastic songs & productions.
    Always loved ” la la “. Sorry to hear of his passing. R.I.P.

    Reply this comment
    • Jennifer
      Jennifer 16 July, 2022, 14:41

      Just heard this news on 6Music, Craig Charles show.
      Had to play La La (means I love you) more than once and shed some tears. It’s such a sweet, perfect song. Hits me in the heart and takes me back. So sad for him to die in surgery.

      Reply this comment
      • The One
        The One 21 July, 2022, 19:06

        Yeah Jen, I agree with your entire sentiments. These were my boys then, now, and always.

        Reply this comment
  2. Da Mick
    #2 Da Mick 17 July, 2022, 13:01

    This is, or course, terribly sad news. The Delfonics stood out as special, with a unique sound in the prime era of soul bands. Even more sadly, I just last night saw a modern day version of a band calling themselves “The Delfonics” in a 70s Soul Jam Show. With the years taking their toll, you’re lucky to find any original members of those classic soul bands still performing, and that’s OK, IF you replace them with people who have comparable vocal chops, and understanding of what that band and its sound were about, and what made people love them in the first place, and, lastly, having replacements that at least sound sonically similar to the people that they are replacing. So many of the singers I saw in the lineups of these modern-day 70s soul bands checked all those boxes, but, tragically, the young heirs to “The Delfonics” legacy did not check any of them. While they claimed to be hand picked by Poogie, and have been mentored by him, they didn’t sound anything like the Delfonics, and they didn’t even really try. As young black singers they used this opportunity to get up on a bigger stage under the Delfonics moniker, and take these classic songs their own way, often incorporating the modern day black singing style of what I call vocal gymnastics to show off what they were individually capable of, rather than singing the songs the way they were recorded, and they way that the fans came to hear them sung. And beyond that, beside basterdizing these great songs, they just sounded nothing like The Delfonics vocally. The plain fact of the matter is they just weren’t very good in any context. It was a very, very sad stain on the incredible legacy of William Hart, and the fabulous Delfonics. I’ve seen them listed in other similar soul revue shows, so be forewarned, and don’t get your hopes up if they’re in a revue that you’re going to see. It’s especially sad considering the great job so many other groups do upholding the classic sounds and legacies of so many other great bands of that era. I’d rather have had the great Delfonics just slip away in greatness, than come to this.

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    • Des. W
      Des. W 19 July, 2022, 18:03

      I agree with you. I saw them Thursday in Atlantic City and they were HORRIBLE. I wanted to scream!!! I have been a fan since I was 14. Disappointed is being nice!! I wanted to cry. Then, during the program they announced that William Hart passed away. I busted out crying!!! Is he not going to be dead the next day???? It hadn’t even hit the internet!!! I will NEVER go see them again

      Reply this comment
    • David
      David 20 July, 2022, 03:09

      Rest In Peace William Hart. You had an amazing voice that will live on in our hearts. ❤

      Reply this comment
  3. Pepsi
    #3 Pepsi 17 July, 2022, 15:58

    For the Love ❤️ I Gave to You, William Hart Gave that to us in every performance. Rest in Eternal Peace.

    Reply this comment
    • Bmac
      Bmac 20 July, 2022, 03:50

      Sad to hear poogie died he had a one if a kind voice the delfonics were great

      Reply this comment
  4. Skeeter Yojimbo
    #4 Skeeter Yojimbo 21 July, 2022, 11:12

    Thank you poogie aka William hart for every hit that y’all made. I am truly grateful to you and and the delfonics. I’m a delfonic fan as well as a musician.i’ve played most of your songs with Greg Hill who started singing with Wilbert hart for a while and then Greg Hill started his own delfonics revue and I enjoyed playing those beautiful songs with Greg Hill. I’ve Remembered seeing you at a live summer concert a few years back at the Jackie Robertson park in Harlem me and my kids mother had went to see you live and after the concert me and my kids mother went around where we got photos and autograph.
    It was and awesome night. I’ll never forget it.
    Thank you again.

    Reply this comment
  5. Wendell p
    #5 Wendell p 22 July, 2022, 13:02

    Rest in peace u are chosen too sing in the heaven choir!!!!!!

    Reply this comment
  6. Nise
    #6 Nise 22 July, 2022, 18:11

    R.I.P. I was barely a teenager when I first heard the Delfonics. I grew up with the group. Thank you for being there for me. I still listen to you guys. Denise Stephens.

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