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|Birth name||Norman Ray Harris|
|Born||October 14, 1947|
Danville, Virginia, U.S.
|Died||March 20, 1987 39) (aged|
Norman Ray Harris (October 14, 1947 – March 20, 1987) was an American guitarist, producer, music arranger and songwriter, closely associated with Philly soul. He was a founding member of MFSB, the Philadelphia studio band, and one of the Baker-Harris-Young record production trio.
Harris was a leading arranger for Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff's Philadelphia International Records label in its early years during the 1970s and played guitar on many recording sessions. He also played with Vince Montana's Salsoul Orchestra when several members of MFSB left after financial disagreements with Gamble-Huff in 1974. He later founded his own production company in the mid-1970s called The Harris Machine. In 1980, he released his only solo album, The Harris Machine, on Philadelphia International.
Harris started teaching himself guitar in his teens and began his career in local clubs, often with bassist Ronnie Baker and later drummer Earl Young, and in the house band at the Uptown Theatre in Philadelphia. He then became a session musician as the Philadelphia recording scene expanded.
He later arranged and produced soul and R&B acts during the late 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, including Blue Magic (with whom he had his biggest success, "Sideshow", a No. 1 R&B hit), The Trammps, First Choice, The Dells, The Four Tops, The Temptations, The Whispers, Eddie Kendricks, Barbara Mason, Curtis Mayfield, Bunny Sigler, Joe Simon, South Shore Commission, Exeuctive Suite, and his cousin, Major Harris, a former member of The Delfonics. He also produced several acts, including: Loleatta Holloway, Eddie Holman, Double Exposure and Love Committee, for Salsoul Records, who distributed his subsidiary label, Gold Mind Records.
He died of cardiovascular disease at the age of 39.
In 2016, Harris was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum.
Philadelphia soul, sometimes called Philly soul, the Philadelphia sound, Phillysound, or TSOP, is a genre of late 1960s–1970s soul music characterized by funk influences and lush instrumental arrangements, often featuring sweeping strings and piercing horns. The genre laid the groundwork for disco by fusing the R&B rhythm sections of the 1960s with the pop vocal tradition, and featuring a slightly more pronounced jazz influence in its melodic structures and arrangements. Fred Wesley, the trombonist of the James Brown band and Parliament-Funkadelic, described the signature deep but orchestrated sound as "putting the bow tie on funk."
The Trammps are an American disco and soul band, who were based in Philadelphia and were one of the first disco bands.
MFSB, officially standing for "Mother Father Sister Brother", was a pool of more than 30 studio musicians based at Philadelphia’s Sigma Sound Studios. They worked closely with the production team of Gamble and Huff and producer/arranger Thom Bell, and backed up such groups as Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, the O’Jays, the Stylistics, the Spinners, Wilson Pickett, and Billy Paul.
Instant Funk were an American 1970s and 1980s disco band, best known for their disco classic, "I Got My Mind Made Up ".
Philadelphia International Records (PIR) was an American record label based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was founded in 1971 by the songwriting and production duo, Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff, along with their long time collaborator Thom Bell. It was known for showcasing the Philadelphia soul music genre that was founded on the gospel, doo-wop, and soul music of the time. This 'Philly Soul' sound later became a prominent and distinct era within the R&B genre itself. During the 1970s, the label released a string of worldwide hits which emphasized lavish orchestral instrumentation, heavy bass, and driving percussion.
Loleatta Holloway was an American singer, mainly known for disco songs such as "Hit and Run" and "Love Sensation". In December 2016, Billboard named her the 95th most successful dance artist of all time. According to the Independent, Holloway had "undoubtedly the most sampled female voice in popular music" that was used in house and dance tracks.
Salsoul Records is an American New York City based record label, founded by three brothers, Joseph Cayre, Kenneth Cayre, and Stanley Cayre. Salsoul issued about 300 singles, including many disco/post-disco 12-inch releases, and a string of albums in the 1970s and early 1980s.
Double Exposure is an American, Philadelphia-based disco group. They are best known for their 1976 hit, "Ten Percent".
Vincent Montana Jr., known as Vince Montana, was an American composer, arranger, vibraphonist, and percussionist, best known as a member of MFSB and as the founder of the Salsoul Orchestra. He has been called "the Godfather of disco". Montana was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum in 2016.
The Salsoul Orchestra was the backing band of session musicians for many acts on the New York City label Salsoul Records and, under its own name, recorded several hit singles and albums between 1975 and 1982.
Walter "Bunny" Sigler was an American R&B singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and record producer who did extensive work with the team of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, and was instrumental in creating the "Philly Sound" in the early 1970s.
Earl Donald Young is a Philadelphia-based drummer who rose to prominence in the early 1970s as part of the Philly Soul sound. Young is best known as the founder and leader of The Trammps who had a hit record with "Disco Inferno". Young, along with Ronnie Baker and Norman Harris, was the owner of the Golden Fleece record label.
Tyrone Garfield Kersey, known as Ron "Have Mercy" Kersey, was an American keyboardist, songwriter, producer and arranger most known for writing the music to "Disco Inferno" by The Trammps.
MFSB is the debut album by Philadelphia International Records houseband MFSB, released in 1973.
Barbara Jane Ingram was an American R&B singer and songwriter who was active throughout the early 1970s until the mid-late 1980s, enjoying modest success as a backup singer for almost two decades.
Bobby Eli is an American musician, arranger, composer and record producer from Philadelphia. He is a founding member and lead guitarist of Philadelphia studio band MFSB.
Philadelphia Freedom is the fourth album to be released by Philadelphia International Records house-band MFSB. It is also noted as the debut of PIR producer, artist and musician Dexter Wansel. Of the songs on this album, the bassline of the song "Smile Happy" was used in the song "It's Wasn't Me" by Shaggy.
Going East is an album by soul singer Billy Paul. The album was arranged by Bobby Martin, Lenny Pakula and Thom Bell.
When Love is New is an album by soul singer Billy Paul. It was produced by Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff; arranged by Bobby Martin, Dexter Wansel, Norman Harris, and Jack Faith; and engineered by Joe Tarsia. Released in December 1975, it reached #139 on the Billboard Pop Album chart and #17 on the Soul chart. It includes the singles "Let's Make a Baby" which hit #83 on the Pop singles chart, #18 on the Soul chart, and #30 in the UK and "People Power" which reached #82 on the Soul chart and #14 on the U.S. Dance chart. The album was reissued on CD in 2010 by the U.K.'s Edsel Records. This was the final album where Paul was backed by MFSB, the house band of Philadelphia International Records (PIR).
Thomas Joshua Tindall was an American guitarist. He was a member of MFSB and played on 38 gold and platinum funk and R&B records and more than 30 hits produced by Gamble and Huff in the 1970s and 1980s. Tindall is considered one of the architects of the Philadelphia Sound. He was inducted twice into the Philadelphia Music Alliance's Walk of Fame as a member of MFSB and the Salsoul Orchestra.