Major Harris, 65, lead singer in Delfonics

Harris III
Harris III
Posted: November 14, 2012

HERE'S HOW A FAN commented on a couple of hit songs by Major Harris: " 'Love Won't Let Me Wait' and 'I Believe in Love' were two of his biggest hits that we played so much, my parents wanted to break the records."

Such devotion was a typical reaction of R&B fans to the lead singer of Philadelphia's own Delfonics, a group graced by the Major's dulcet tones in the 1970s.

He was a major player in the success of the iconic "Philadelphia Sound," as promoted by the songwriting and producing team of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff and their Philadelphia International Records.

Major Harris III, who also had success with other singing groups and was still singing as late as last year, died in Richmond, Va., on Nov. 9 of congestive heart and lung failure. He was 65.

In the early '70s, Major joined the Delfonics, which was founded by a group of Overbrook High School kids in the '60s. He replaced Randy Cain, one of the original members.

Major was born and grew up in Richmond, where his father was a guitarist and his mother led church choirs. He began to hang out in local clubs to watch musicians play. Because he was a tall kid, he could get into the clubs without being questioned.

"He always appeared to be older, which gave him a lot of ins to a lot of older places," his sister Catherine Thomas told the Associated Press.

She said her brother knew at an early age that music would be his life.

Major performed with Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, the Jamels, Nat Turner's Rebellion and the Charmers before going with the Delfonics.

Major left the Delfonics in 1974 to pursue a solo career. His time away from the group produced his ballad "Love Won't Let Me Wait," which became an international hit and was later covered by Johnny Mathis, Deniece Williams and Luther Vandross.

He also formed Major Harris' Boogie Blues Band.

In 1975, the Delfonics split into two groups, with Major combining with Wilbert Hart, one of the founders of the group, and Frank Washington, formerly of the Futures.

Lineups became confusing as members changed. Major Harris moved to a group consisting of Wilbert Hart's brother William and Frank Washington. They performed through the 1980s and 1990s, using the Delfonics name.

Major Harris then toured with Washington and Pat Palmer. Later in his career, Major collaborated with R&B, soul and gospel singer Margie Joseph on the DVD "Blue Magic/Margie Joseph/Major Harris Live!"

Catherine Harris said Major last performed in 2011 at a reunion show with some members of the Delfonics.

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