Randy Cain: Founder member of the Philly soul group the Delfonics

The falsetto soul hits "Didn't I (Blow Your Mind This Time)", "La-La (Means I Love You)" and "Ready or Not Here I Come (Can't Hide from Love)" by the Delfonics are so evocative of the early Seventies that they regularly feature on the soundtracks of films like Quentin Tarantino's blaxploitation homage, Jackie Brown. Yet the records made by the Philadelphia vocal trio still sound fresh and distinctive and have been covered by Aretha Franklin, The Jackson 5, Todd Rundgren and Prince. The grooves and melodies devised by producer Thom Bell have proved so infectious that they have been sampled on myriad hip-hop and R&B releases by Notorious B.I.G., Missy Elliott and the Fugees.

The second tenor Randy Cain played an important part in creating the Delfonics' distinctive blend of three-part harmonies with Wilbert Hart – lead and baritone – and his older brother, William, whose swoop from aching tenor to falsetto made listeners swoon and became the group's trademark. William "Poogie" Hart co-wrote most of the group's hits with Bell and remains its de facto leader to this day. Cain was a mainstay from 1965 to 1971, the year the Delfonics won a Grammy Award for Best Rhythm & Blues Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group for "Didn't I", and he also helped the band to score three Top 40 hits in the UK. In 1973, he had a hand in the formation of Blue Magic, the Philadelphia group whose US hit "Sideshow" became a Top 3 single for the Jamaican singer Barry Biggs in Britain in 1976.

Born Herbert Randal Cain III in 1945, he joined his school friends, the Hart brothers, when their vocal group – originally called the Veltones, then the Four Gents, and eventually the Orphonics – lost one member to the church and another to the draft. They loved recreating the doo-wop sound of Little Anthony and the Imperials and Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers in the Harts' basement and became good enough to play colleges and high schools and enter local talent shows.

In 1966, they acquired as manager and promoter Stan Watson, who suggested a name-change to the Delfonics. He introduced them to Bell, working as pianist and arranger at Cameo Parkway, the Philadelphia label famous for Chubby Checker, Dee Dee Sharp and The Tymes. William Hart and Bell wrote "He Don't Really Love You", with the studio musician turned producer playing most of the instruments on the track.

The following year, they released "You've Been Untrue", another Bell-Hart composition, but the partnership really delivered in 1968 with the smooth ballad "La-La (Means I Love You)" which reached No 4 in the US. The same year the Delfonics played Vegas with Sammy Davis Jnr and were supported by the Jacksons in Chicago (Cain loved telling the story of a 10-year-old Michael Jackson bringing them tea and honey in the dressing room and telling everyone they were his favourite group).

With Bell's gift for melody and orchestration, the Delfonics ushered in the era of slick, sophisticated, symphonic Philly Soul, and helped define the genre with three excellent albums – including 1969's Sound of Sexy Soul – and a run of singles which crossed over from the R&B to the pop charts including "Break Your Promise", "I'm Sorry", "Funny Feeling", "Somebody Loves You", "When You Get Right Down To It" and "Over and Over".

By 1971, they had broken through in the UK as well, and appeared on Top of the Pops, but Cain either became ill or fell out with the Harts, depending on whose account you believe. He was replaced by Major Harris of the Jarmels. In 1973, Cain, then working for WMOT Productions (the initials stood for We Men of Talent), suggested that the singer and songwriter Ted Mills get together with a quartet called Shades of Love. As Blue Magic, they scored a No 1 R&B hit with "Side-show" and also placed "Three Ring Circus" in the US Top 40 in 1974.

Cain rejoined the Delfonics for a while in the '80s, and again recently, though in the intervening years both he and Wilbert Hart had filed and won civil suits against William Hart, the sole owner of the name, and Arista Records/Sony BMG, the owners of the Delfonics' catalogue, for back royalties.

Pierre Perrone

Herbert Randal "Randy" Cain III, singer: born Philadelphia 2 May 1945; died Maple Shade Township, New Jersey 9 April 2009.

Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Tovey says of homeless charity the Pillion Trust : 'If it weren't for them and the park attendant I wouldn't be here today.'
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Employment Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - Senior Employment Solici...

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little