Major Harris: Singer best known for 'Love Won't Wait'

The soul singer Major Harris was best known for the sensual Philly Soul ballad "Love Won't Let Me Wait", which topped the R&B charts and became a top-five hit in the US in 1975. Written by Vinnie Barrett and guitarist Bobby Eli, who also produced the track, it became a staple of the late-night schedules of urban radio stations. Disc jockeys switched from the three-and-a-half-minute single edit to the five-and-a-half minute original album version, including the suggestive moans of backing vocalist Barbara Ingram.

"We cut the thing in such a way that it would bring out the sexy atmosphere of the song," Harris told the magazine Black Music in 1975. "The session was on a summer day, so we turned the lights down in the studio to get the right atmosphere. We were gonna put some rain noises in there too, 'cause folk seem to dig making love on rainy days. We shelved the idea but we kept the sexy lady." The track also charted in the UK.

Recorded at the famed Philadelphia studio Sigma Sound, where the Stylistics and the Detroit Spinners cut many of their hits, "Love Won't Let Me Wait" featured on guitar, alongside Eli, Major's cousin Norman Harris, the arranger, producer and songwriter associated with the Philadelphia pool of studio musicians MFSB. "Love Won't Let Me Wait" was revived by Johnny Mathis and Deniece Williams in 1984 and has been covered by Luther Vandross and Nancy Wilson.

Major Harris III was born in 1947 in Richmond, Virginia, into a family of performers. His grandparents worked in vaudeville, his mother led church choirs and his father played guitar professionally. Both his brother – known professionally as Joseph B Jefferson – and he picked up guitar tips from their father and in 1970 teamed up in the outfit Nat Turner's Rebellion. Before that, Harris sang with the doo-wop groups the Charmers, the Jarmels and Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers and issued solo singles on Laurie and Okeh Records.

In 1971, Harris replaced Randy Cain as second tenor in the Delfonics, the Philly group who had scored Transatlantic hits with "La-La (Means I Love You)", "Ready or Not Here I Come (Can't Hide from Love)" and "Didn't I (Blow Your Mind This Time)", all co-written by the producer and arranger Thom Bell and the vocalist William Hart, whose swoops from aching tenor to falsetto gave the trio their signature sound.

Their line-up was rounded off by William's younger brother Wilbert on lead tenor and baritone. Unfortunately, Harris joined just as Bell switched to The Stylistics and the Detroit Spinners, and, even if the sublime singles "Think It Over", "I Don't Want To Make You Wait" and "Lying To Myself" continued in the same sweet harmony vein and made clever use of his mellow tenor, most of the tracks he contributed to, including the proto-disco "I Told You So", languished in the lower reaches of the charts. His departure in 1974 effectively ended that chapter of the Delfonics' history.

Having signed to the Philly-based company WMOT Productions (the initials stood for We Men Of Talent) which had secured a distribution deal with Atlantic, Harris kicked off his solo career with the uptempo yet achingly beautiful single "Each Morning I Wake Up" and scored a major hit with "Love Won't Let Me Wait", both included on the My Way album, along with a superlative version of the title track associated with Frank Sinatra, and a recording of "Sideshow", the Barrett/Eli composition which had already proved a success for Blue Magic.

However, despite the involvement of Norman Harris, 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.

Harris sang at a reunion show with the Delfonics last year. He died from congestive heart and lung failure.

Major Harris III, singer: born Richmond, Virginia 9 February 1947; died Richmond 9 November 2012.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Teeth should be brushed twice a day to prevent tooth decay
education
News
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
news
Sport
footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League - but Mourinho is short of strikers
News
Those who were encouraged to walk in a happy manner remembered less negative words
science
Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
News
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
i100
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Project Manager

Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

IT Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London