Disco group Ecstasy, Passion & Pain boasted the vibrant, supple lead vocals of Barbara Roy and dance classics produced by Philly soul arranger/songwriter Bobby Martin. Besides singer/guitarist/songwriter Roy (she wrote their hits, "I Wouldn't Give You Up" and "Ask Me"), the group lineup included drummer Althea "Cookie" Smith, bassist Joseph Williams, guitarist Jimmy Clark, percussionists Carl Jordan and later Alan Tizer, organist Billy Gardner, and keyboardist Ronnie Foster, who later became a popular contemporary jazz artist and top session player in the '80s and '90s. Though they were an actual band, Martin used MFSB and the background vocals of the Sweethearts of Sigma on their hits.
Born Barbara Gaskins in Kingston, NC, Roy first recorded with her niece Brenda Gaskins as Barbara and Brenda ("Let's Get Together" on Avanti, "That's When You've Got Soul" on Heidi, and "If I'm Hurt You'll Feel the Pain"). Her niece retired from the music business and Barbara Roy began playing guitar for Inez and Charlie Foxx ("Mockingbird") and on various recording sessions in New York. In 1973, Ecstasy, Passion & Pain was formed and shortly afterwards, through manager Phil Braxton, the group had a recording contract. Getting a deal with Roulette Records, Ecstasy, Passion & Pain recorded a stream of hits in the mid-'70s: "I Wouldn't Give You Up," "Good Things Don't Last Forever" (written by Bunny Sigler, Norman Harris, and Allan Felder), the chugging "Ask Me" (written by lead singer Roy with an intro that recalls First Choice's "Armed and Extremely Dangerous"), the jubilant "One Beautiful Day," "Touch and Go" (another Sigler/Harris/Felder song), and "Passion." Four years later, the group resurfaced on the lead singer's own Roy B label with the 12" single "If You Want Me," a dance club hit. In 1986, Barbara Roy was a solo act on RCA Records, charting number 83 R&B with "Gotta See You Tonight" in the fall of that year. She was later heard on the 1989 Paul Simpson/Togetherness LP We Are the Ones for Simp-House/Cooltempo. ~ Ed Hogan