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Sunday, 9 February 2014

Major Harris born 9 February 1947

Major Harris III (February 9, 1947 – November 9, 2012) was an American R&B singer, associated with the Philadelphia soul sound and The Delfonics (early 1970s–1974).

Harris was born into a musical family on February 9, 1947, in Richmond, Virginia, as Major Harris III. His grandparents worked in vaudeville, his father was a professional guitarist, and his mother led the church choirs. His brother was Joe Jefferson, a Philadelphia songwriter responsible for many of the Spinners' hits like "Mighty Love," "Love Don't Love Nobody," and "One of a Kind Love Affair." His cousin was longtime Philly stalwart Norman Harris, a guitarist, producer, songwriter, and former record company owner.

Harris paid major dues: he sang with the Charmers, was briefly a member of Frankie Lymon's Teenagers, recorded with the Jarmels, issued solo singles on Laurie and OKeh Records, and later sang with Nat Turner's Rebellion on Philly Groove Records. None of his previous efforts brought him fame or success. He recorded with the Jarmels after they hit with "A Little Bit of Soap." Harris' first big break came when he joined the Delfonics, replacing Randy Cain; his first tour of duty with them ended in 1974 when he went solo. While with the group his mellow tenor was featured on quite a few recordings as a foil to lead William "Poogie" Hart's soulful falsetto, as is evident on "Think It Over Baby," "Lying to Myself," and "I Told You So."

Having left the Delfonics, he passed a solo audition for W.M.O.T. (We Men of Talent) productions and was signed as a solo act. An album was produced and released on Atlantic Records. The first release, "Each Day I Wake Up," was credited as being by the Major Harris Boogie Blues Band. When Atlantic later sprung "Love Won't Let Me Wait" on the public, the seductive ballad achieved a million in sales and became the high mark of Harris' career. It was recorded in a darkened Sigma Sound Studio with only a small light at Harris' lyric stand: Barbara Ingram, Carla Benton, and Yvette Benson supplied the backing vocals. MFSB played on the tracks with that distinctive, prevalent guitar supplied by Bobby Eli, who also produced the session and wrote the song with Gwendolyn Woolfolk (under her pen name of Vinnie Barrett). "Love Won't Let Me Wait" was awarded a gold disc by the R.I.A.A. on 25 June 1975.

As I have posted Major Harris singing "Love Won't Let Me Wait" in a video clip,  here's the flip side "After Losing You." 

Subsequent ballads by Harris fared well on the charts for a while, his 1976 follow-up album Jealousy, and the singles "I Got Over Love", "It's Got To Be Magic" and "Laid Back Love" failed to
recapture the sophisticated sensuality of his debut. In 1978, he made the How Do You Take Your Love album with noted producer and songwriter Jerry Ragovoy for RCA and in 1984, he worked with Butch and James Ingram on the engagingly slinky album I Believe In Love, but he didn't make the transition to soul superstar like Luther Vandross or Alexander O'Neal. He returned to the Delfonics, and in 1996 they contributed backing vocals to the track "After the Smoke is Clear" on the Ironman album by Ghostface Killah of the Wu-Tang Clan hip-hop collective.

As a solo act he was featured on an excellent live recording with Blue Magic and Margie Joseph, which showed that he was an even better entertainer than recording artist. He later toured with one of the two groups called the Delfonics; his version featured original members William Hart and Randy Cain. The other group included William Hart's brother, Wilbert (an original member), and two new guys. In 2008, Harris contributed his vocals to Best of the Delphonics. His final performance was at a Delfonics reunion show in 2011.

The Delfonics on Soul Train: Season 1, Episode 11, airdate 11 December 1971 — left to right: Major Harris, William Hart, Wilbert Hart.

Major Harris died in Richmond from congestive heart and lung failure on November 9, 2012; he was 65 years old.  (Info mainly edited from All Music)

1 comment:

boppinbob said...

After a quick search you can access most if not all of Major Harris discography.

For Major Harris - My Way (1974) go here:

1. Each Morning I Wake Up
2. Love Won't Let Me Want
3. Sweet Tomorrow
4. Sideshow
5. Two Wrongs
6. Loving You Is Mellow
7. Just A Thing That I Do
8. After Loving You
9. My Way