Biography All Music Guide
All Music Guide:
Guitarist/producer/arranger/songwriter Norman Harris can be heard on countless Philly soul sessions of the '60s, '70s, and '80s. He was a founding member of MFSB, the rhythm/strings/horns aggregation that was the house band for Gamble & Huff's Philadelphia International label. As one third of the production trio of Baker-Harris-Young, he produced hits on First Choice, Eddie Holman, the Salsoul Orchestra, and Love Committee for Salsoul Records, as well as Atlantic Records acts the Trammps. He also had hits with Gloria Gaynor ("Honey Bee"), the Delfonics ("La La Means I Love You," "Didn't I Blow Your Mind"), Jerry Butler ("Hey Western Union Man," "Only the Strong Survive"), Wilson Pickett ("Engine Number 9," "Don't Let the Green Grass Fool You"), Joe Simon ( "Drowning in the Sea of Love," "Power of Love"), and the Spinners ("I'll Be Around," "Could It Be I'm Falling in Love"), among many others. Beside fellow MFSB members drummer Earl Young and bassist Ron Baker, Harris' frequent songwriting partners were Allan Felder and Bunny Sigler. He came up with his unique string and horn arrangements by composing the parts on his guitar.
Harris and Baker first teamed up late in the '50s, and began playing in Philly-area clubs. When they got calls for recording sessions in the '60s, the duo began working with drummer Karl Chambers. Later adding drummer Young, the trio began to build up a considerable reputation as a tight rhythm section. After playing on so many hits, they decided to form a record label and music-publishing firm called Golden Fleece, and worked out a deal with Sigma Sound Studios owner Joe Tarsia. Vocal trio First Choice was introduced to Harris by WDAS DJ Jimmy Bishop, and began recording for the Philly Groove label distributed by Bell Records. The hits began to come: "Armed and Extremely Dangerous," "Smarty Parts," "The Player," and "Newsy Neighbors." When Harris started his own Salsoul-distributed Gold Mind label in 1979, he signed the group. Harris also became a recording artist, recording as the Harris Machine and one self-titled 1979 Salsoul LP as a part of Baker-Harris-Young.