DELTON McCALL, whose smooth tenor graced many R&B hits, largely with the popular singing group The Orioles in the '60s, died May 25. He was 73 and lived in Philadelphia.

Delton made his mark on the local music scene in the early to mid-'50s, filling in for absent members of seminal singing groups like the Castelles and Dreams, according to Robert Bosco, music historian and writer.

In the early '60s, he joined Sonny Til's third incarnation of the Orioles and sang on such cuts as "Secret Love," "In the Chapel in the Moonlight," "Lonely Christmas" and "I Miss You So."

The cuts were recorded on the Charlie Parker label, Bosco said.

Sonny Til founded the original Orioles in Baltimore in the late '40s. Members were considered the founding fathers of rhythm and blues and the premier love-song balladeers of the era.

The group was ragingly popular in the late '40s with such hits as "It's Too Soon to Know," "Crying in the Chapel" and "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?" which had teenage girls screaming in the audiences.

As with most music groups, the Orioles' fortunes waxed and waned, and personnel changed over the years. Delton McCall, called "Satan" by his fellow musicians, joined the group in the early '60s.

"McCall's claim to fame was his inspired backgrounding - along with close friend and former Oriole Billy Taylor on lead - on the national hit 'La La' as the Cobras, for Swan Records in 1964, one of the zaniest songs ever recorded," Bosco said. "It is still played on oldies outlets around the country."

Delton also sang, and may have recorded, with Pookie Hudson's Spaniels, Bosco said. "And it has been reported he backgrounded for the ultra-smooth Gene Mumford as a sometime Domino," he said.

Delton sang at the Apollo Theater in Harlem and other famous venues around the country.

Some of the members of the original Orioles quit the business or died, including Til, who died of a heart attack in 1981 at the age of 56.

Delton was born in Philadelphia to Delton McCall Sr. and Elease "Sugar" McCall, and was educated in the public schools.

When earnings from his music were slim, Delton worked as a cook at local restaurants.

A dapper dresser, Delton loved to cook and "he loved to eat," his family said.

He was an active member of the Christian Compassion Baptist Church, 1608 Point Breeze Ave., which he joined in 2001 under the pastorship of the Rev. Samuel Slaffey.

"Delton loved going to church, and he loved the Lord," his family said.

He is survived by his wife, Lila "Cool" McCall; two daughters, Delephine "Joyce" McCall and Nichole Taylor; three sons, Sean, Brian and Fred; and nine grandchildren.

Services: Were yesterday. Burial was in Merion Memorial Park. *