William Hart, who as the lead singer and chief lyricist of the soul trio the Delfonics helped pioneer the romantic lyrics, falsetto vocals and velvety string arrangements that defined the Philadelphia sound of the 1960s and ’70s, died on July 14 in Philadelphia. He was 77.
His son Hadi said the death, at Temple University Hospital, was caused by complications during surgery.
The Delfonics combined the harmonies of doo-wop, the sweep of orchestral pop and the crispness of funk to churn out a string of hits, 20 of which reached the Billboard Hot 100. (Two made the Top 10.)
Almost all of them were written by Mr. Hart in conjunction with the producer Thom Bell, including “La-La (Means I Love You),” “I’m Sorry” and “Ready or Not Here I Come (Can’t Hide From Love),” all released in 1968, and, a year later, “Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time),” which won a Grammy for best R&B vocal by a duo or group.
“La-La (Means I Love You)” is pretty much close to perfection. There isn’t a single note out of place. And those vocals! (Just try not to sing along. It’s impossible to resist.)
Philly soul, for the win. Rest in peace, brother.