The Delfonics’ William Hart has died aged 77

Hart founded the Philadelphia soul group, who were covered by Prince and sampled by Notorious BIG

William Hart, a founding member of influential Philadephia soul group The Delfonics, has died aged 77.

The news of Hart’s death was broken by his son to TMZ, revealing that the singer was hospitalised due to having trouble breathing, and died from complications from subsequent surgery.

Hart founded The Delfonics with brother Wilbert in 1966 as an offshoot of their group The Orphonics, who had formed two years earlier. Their most popular single, ‘La-La (Means I Love You)’, came out in 1968, and was subsequently covered by worldwide stars including Prince and the Jackson 5.

The band officially broke up in 1975, but Hart continued to perform with Delfonics members including Major Harris and Randy Cain in many different iterations until the 1990s.

The group’s legacy continued into the ’90s and early 2000s through being sampled by hip-hop heavyweights including Missy Elliott, Notorious BIG, Ghostface Killa and more.

Leading tributes to Hart was producer Adrian Younge, who Hart collaborated with on 2013 album ‘Adrian Younge Presents The Delfonics’, which saw Younge re-working Delfonics classics.

He wrote: “Definitely shed some tears today. We lost a great one. You taught me so much and gave so much to the world of music. The master singer…the master writer…the man that created songs that changed the world. You are missed brotha. Love you man.

“As I write this, I’m thinking about one of the last songs we wrote for our album ‘Life Never Ends.’ Never thought about it applying to you though.”

Younge added: “Still remember us talking on the phone for the first time…the excitement about us getting to work…the journey you’ve been on. The life stories you shared. Wow. What a treasure. The time you told me you wrote ‘La La means I love you’ because your newborn kept saying “La La”.

“You told me it was your son saying I love you. The simple things you turned into masterpieces man. I can go on and on but thank you for everything.”

Others to pay tribute include New Kids On The Block, who wrote: “We are so saddened to learn of the passing of William Hart, the lead singer and founding member of the Delfonics as well as the writer and singer of one of our most beloved songs: the cover version of ‘Didn’t I Blow Your Mind’.”

KISS‘ Paul Stanley also paid tribute to Hart, writing: “LOVE The Delfonics! They truly defined The Sound Of Philadelphia. William Hart not only sang but co-wrote their greatest hits with Thom Bell. I’d know that voice anywhere. Rest In Glory.”

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