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Ohio Players

With their slinky, horn-powered grooves, impeccable musicianship, and eye-popping album covers, the Ohio Players were among the top funk bands of the mid-'70s. Emerging from the musical hotbed of Dayton in 1959, the group was originally dubbed the Ohio Untouchables, and initially comprised singer/guitarist Robert Ward, bassist Marshall "Rock" Jones, saxophonist/guitarist Clarence "Satch" Satchell, drummer Cornelius Johnson, and trumpeter/trombonist Ralph "Pee Wee" Middlebrooks. In late 1961, a relative of Ward's founded the Detroit-based Lupine Records, and the group traveled north to the Motor City to back the Falcons on their hit "I Found a Love"; the Ohio Untouchables soon made their headlining debut with "Love Is Amazing," but when Ward subsequently exited for a solo career, the group essentially disbanded.

At that point, the nucleus of Middlebrooks, Jones, and newly added guitarist Leroy "Sugarfoot" Bonner returned to Dayton; there they recruited saxophonist Andrew Noland and drummer Gary Webster, the latter a somewhat elusive figure whose true involvement in the group's convoluted history has never been definitively answered -- some sources credit him as a founding Untouchable, others even as the band's early leader. In any case, by 1967, with the subsequent addition of singers Bobby Lee Fears and Dutch Robinson, the newly rechristened Ohio Players were signed as the house band for the New York-based Compass Records, backing singer Helena Ferguson on her lone hit, "Where Is the Party," before issuing their solo debut, "Trespassin'," which hit the R&B charts in early 1968.

Although the Players' trademark bottom-heavy, horn-driven sound was already blossoming, their follow-up, "It's a Cryin' Shame," flopped, and as Compass teetered on the brink of bankruptcy they exited the label. (Their early Compass sides were later packaged as First Impressions.) The Players then landed on Capitol, where 1969's "Here Today, Gone Tomorrow" was a minor hit; an LP, Observations in Time, soon followed, with covers of "Summertime" and "Over the Rainbow" offering a strong hint of the stylistic detours to follow. In 1970 the group disbanded, however; Fears and Robinson both mounted solo careers, while the remaining members again decamped to Dayton, eventually re-forming with keyboardist, vocalist, and songwriter Walter "Junie" Morrison, trumpeter Bruce Napier, and trombonist Marvin Pierce.

Influenced by the groundbreaking funk of Sly & the Family Stone -- and with the nasal, cartoon-voiced Bonner assuming vocal duties -- the new Ohio Players lineup made their debut with the single "Pain," issued on the small local label Rubber Town Sounds; it was soon picked up for distribution by the Detroit-based Westbound label, reaching the R&B Top 40 in late 1971. An LP, also titled Pain, appeared that same year, and was followed in 1972 by Pleasure, which launched the absurdist smash "Funky Worm." Ecstacy appeared in 1973, and after 1974's Climax, the Players signed to Mercury; the label change also heralded yet more lineup changes, with keyboardist Billy Beck replacing Morrison (who later signed on with Parliament) and drummer Jimmy "Diamond" Williams taking over for Webster.

At Mercury, the Ohio Players enjoyed their greatest success; not only did their sound coalesce, but they became notorious for their sexually provocative LP covers, a tradition begun during their Westbound tenure. Their 1974 Mercury debut, Skin Tight, was their first unequivocal classic, launching the hit title track as well as "Jive Turkey." Its follow-up, Fire, remains the Players' masterpiece, topping the pop charts on the strength of its bone-rattling title cut, itself a number one hit; "I Want to Be Free," one of the band's few attempts at social commentary, was also highly successful. 1975's Honey -- which featured perhaps the Players' most controversial and erotic cover to date -- was another monster, generating the chart-topping masterpiece "Love Rollercoaster" in addition to the hits "Sweet Sticky Thing" and "Fopp."

The insistent "Who'd She Coo?" from 1976's Contradiction, was the Players' last number one R&B hit; "O-H-I-O," from 1977's Angel, was their last major hit on any chart, and as the '70s drew to a close, the band's fortunes continued to decline. 1979's Jass-Ay-Lay-Dee was their final Mercury effort, and upon signing to Arista, the Players returned with Everybody Up, followed by a pair of dismal releases on Boardwalk, 1981's Tenderness and 1982's Ouch! After 1984's Graduation, four years passed prior to the release of their next effort, Back. No new material was forthcoming, although various lineups continued performing live well into the following decades. Despite the deaths of core members Satchell (December 1995), Middlebrooks (November 1997), Ward (December 2008), Johnson (February 2009), and Bonner (January 2013), the band continued to sporadically record and extensively tour. ~ Jason Ankeny
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Love Rollercoaster: Anthology (1967-1988)

1. Love Rollercoaster (Re-Recorded)

2. Fire (Re-Recorded)

3. Here Today And Gone Tomorrow

4. Trespassin'

6. A Thing Called Love

7. Summertime

9. Mother-In-Law

10. Cold, Cold World

12. Over The Rainbow

13. A Little Soul Party

14. I've Got To Hold On

15. It's A Cryin' Shame

16. Find Someone To Love

17. Stop Lying To Yourself

18. Tell Me Why

19. Sweat

20. Vibe Alive

x

Track List: Over The Rainbow

1. Over The Rainbow

2. Summertime

3. The Man That I Am

4. Bad Bargain

5. Find Someone To Love

6. Cold, Cold World

7. Lonely Street

8. Mother-In-Law

9. Stop Lying To Yourself

10. Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

11. Street Play

x

Track List: Devoted

1. Boardwalkin'

2. Devoted

3. Do Your Thing

4. Everybody Dance

5. Hard To Love Your Brother

6. My Baby Gets The Best Of My Love

7. Sittin' On The Dock Of The Bay

8. Sometimes I Cry

9. Thinkin' Bout You

10. Try A Little Tenderness

11. Try To Be A Man

x

Track List: Sweet Foxy Lady

1. Here Today And Gone Tomorrow

2. I Gotta Move

3. Tell Me Why (2008)

4. You Didn't Mean It (2008)

5. Trespassin' (2008)

6. I've Got To Hold On (2008)

7. It's A Crying Shame (2008)

8. A Thing Called Love (2008)

9. I Think I'm Leavin' With The Wind

10. Sweet Foxy Lady

11. Bad High

12. Search The Purchase

13. Savage

14. My Affections

15. Street Party (2008)

x

Track List: Gold

Disc 1

1. Skin Tight

2. Jive Turkey

3. Heaven Must Be Like This

4. Fire

5. I Want To Be Free

6. It's All Over

7. Fopp

8. Sweet Sticky Thing

9. Love Rollercoaster

10. Let's Love (Interpolated With "Let's Do It")

11. Alone (Live)

12. Happy Holidays Pt. 1

Disc 2

1. Who'd She Coo

2. Bi-Centennial

3. Far East Mississippi

4. Only A Child Can Love

5. Feel The Beat (Everybody Disco)

6. O-H-I-O

7. Body Vibes

8. Merry-Go-Round

9. Good Luck Charm

10. Funk-O-Nots

11. Time Slips Away

12. Everybody Up

x

Track List: I Gotta Get Away

1. I Gotta Get Away

2. Cold Cold World

3. Bad Bargain

4. It's A Crying Shame

5. I've Got To Hold On

6. Here Today And Gone Tomorrow

7. Find Someone To Love

x

Track List: Fan-Tastic Ohio Players

1. Street Party

2. Cold, Cold World

3. Love Slips Through My Fingers

4. Soupbone

5. A Thing Called Love

6. You Don't Mean It

7. My Neighbors

8. A Little Soul Party

9. Gotta Get Away From You

10. It's A Crying Shame

11. Man That I Am (2010)

12. Stop Lying To Yourself

13. Here Today And Gone Tomorrow

14. Bad Bargain

15. A Woman And Some Soul

16. Tell Me Why

17. I've Got To Hold On

18. Trespassin'

x

Track List: Trespassin'

1. Stop Lying To Yourself

2. Over The Rainbow

3. You Don't Mean It

4. Summertime

5. Here Today And Gone Tomorrow

6. Lonely Street

7. Bad Bargain

8. It's A Crying Shame

9. Tell Me Why

10. Find Someone To Love

11. Trespassin'

12. Mother-In-Law

13. Cold, Cold World

14. The Man That I Am

15. Street Party

16. A Thing Called Love

17. My Neighbors

18. Lonely Streets At Midnight

19. I Gotta Get Away

20. I've Got To Hold On

21. Love Slips Through My Fingers

22. A Little Soul Party

x

Track List: Original Artist Hit List: Ohio Players (Live)

1. Skin Tight (Live)

2. Ol' School (Live)

3. Pain (Live)

4. Heaven Must Be Like This (Live)

5. Sweet Sezy Things (Live)

6. Thank You (Live)

7. I Wanna Be Free (Live)

8. Love Rollercoaster (Live)

9. Fire (Live)

10. Megamix (Live)

x

Track List: Cold Cold World

1. Cold Cold World

2. Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

3. Mother In Law

5. Over The Rainbow

6. Lonely Street

8. Bad Bargain

9. The Man That I Am

10. Find Someone To Love

x

Track List: The Best Of The Ohio Players

1. Love Rollercoaster

2. I Want To Be Free

3. Fopp

4. Let's Do It

5. Skin Tight

6. Fire

7. Sweet Sticky Thing

8. Jive Turkey

9. Who'd She Coo

10. Heaven Must Be Like This

11. O-H-I-O

12. Happy Holidays Pt.1

x

Track List: Soul Party

1. Lonely Street

2. Lonely Streets At Midnight

3. Mother-In-Law

4. My Neighbors

5. Over The Rainbow

7. Stop Lying To Yourself

8. Street Party

9. Summertime

10. Tell Me Why

11. The Man That I Am

12. A Thing Called Love

13. Trespassin'

14. You Don't Mean It

15. You To Me Are Everything

x

Track List: Live Soul Party (The Dave Cash Collection)

1. A Little Soul Party (A Woman And Some Soul)

2. A Thing Called Love

3. Cold Cold World

4. Find Someone To Love

5. Here Today And Gone Tomorrow

6. I Gotta Get Away

7. Summertime

8. Street Party

9. Stop Lying To Yourself

10. Soupbone

11. Over The Rainbow

12. My Neighbors

13. Mother In Law

14. Love Slips Through My Fingers

15. Lonely Street

16. I've Got To Hold On

17. You Don't Mean It

18. Trespassin'

x

Track List: Jam (Live)

1. Merry Go Round (Remix) (Live)

2. Love Rollercoaster (Extended Version) (Live)

3. Alone (Live)

4. Skin Tight (Live)

5. Fopp (Edit) (Live)

6. Magic Trick (Edit) (Live)

7. Good Luck Charm (Edit) (Live)

8. Fire (Live)

9. O-H-I-O (Remix) (Live)

10. Sugar's Blues (Live)

11. O-H-I-O (Reprise) (Live)

x

Track List: Jass-Ay-Lay-Dee

1. Funk-O-Nots

2. Sleepwalkin'

3. Jass-Ay-Lay-Dee

4. Nott Enuff

5. Time Slips Away / Shoot Yer Shot

6. Dance (If Ya Wanta)

x

Track List: Angel

1. Angel

2. Merry Go Round

3. Glad To Know You're Mine

4. Don't Fight My Love

5. Body Vibes

6. Can You Still Love Me

7. O-H-I-O

8. Faith

x

Track List: Mr. Mean

1. Mr. Mean

2. Fight Me, Chase Me

3. The Controller's Mind

4. The Big Score

5. Magic Trick

6. Good Luck Charm

7. Speak Easy

x

Track List: Contradiction

1. Contradiction

2. Precious Love

3. Little Lady Maria

4. Far East Mississippi

5. Who'd She Coo

6. My Life

7. Tell The Truth

8. My Ladies Run Me Crazy

9. Bi-Centennial

x

Track List: Honey

1. Honey

2. Fopp

4. Ain't Givin' Up No Ground

5. Sweet Sticky Thing

6. Love Rollercoaster

7. Alone

x

Track List: Skin Tight

1. Skin Tight

2. Streakin' Cheek To Cheek

3. It's Your Night / Words Of Love

4. Jive Turkey

5. Heaven Must Be Like This

6. Is Anybody Gonna Be Saved?

x

Track List: Fire

1. Fire

2. Together

3. Runnin' From The Devil

4. I Want To Be Free

5. Smoke

6. It's All Over

7. What The Hell

8. Together/Feelings

x

Track List: Ecstasy

1. Ecstasy

2. You And Me

3. Not So Sad And Lonely

4. (I Wanna Know) Do You Feel It?

5. Black Cat

6. Food Stamps Y'all

7. Spinning

8. Sleep Talk

9. Silly Billy

10. Short Change

11. Rattlesnake

12. Hustle Bird

13. Hollywood Hump

14. She Locked It

15. Trans Maximus

x

Track List: Pain (Deluxe Version)

1. Pain

2. Never Had A Dream

3. Players Balling (Players Doin' Their Own Thing)

4. I Wanna Hear From You

5. The Reds

6. Singing In The Morning

7. Climax A.K.A. Theme From 69

8. What's Going On?

9. Time And Space

10. Feelin' Alright

11. If You Were My Woman

12. Ain't That Loving You

13. Proud Mary

x

Track List: Pain

1. Pain

2. Never Had A Dream

3. Player's Balling (Players Doin' Their Own Thing)

4. I Wanna Hear From You

5. The Reds

6. Singing In The Morning

x

Track List: Pleasure

1. Pleasure

2. Laid It

3. Pride And Vanity

4. Walt's First Trip

5. Varee Is Love

6. Walked Away From You

7. Paint Me

8. Funky Worm

9. Our Love Has Died

10. Ruffell Foot

11. What It Is

12. Rooster Poot

13. Gone Forever

14. Dimensions In Time

15. Introducing The Players

16. Satan's Boogie

Comments

Report as inappropriate
kelleylinda8 4 0
❤❤❤❤❤❤❤
Report as inappropriate
dragonlady60 8 8
REMEMBER WHEN YOU WERE YOUNG AND CRAZY!!!!
Report as inappropriate
dragonlady60 8 8
OHIO PRODUCED SOME OF THE. GREATES GROUP.MUSICI A N S . .
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dragonlady60 8 8
LOVE THE OPS
Report as inappropriate
19sandy62
Simply smooth ....
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Sound like they are here with you
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Funky and soul
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Remembering the 70' House parties, those were the good old days!!
Report as inappropriate
I love the Ohio players in Tennessee state University we rocked the stong.i now the l players very well personally your truly D.j. with the sting yours truly El scorpio. A.k.a. Ray Rock. Love peace n happyness.
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Luv ole skool
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Love me some Ohio players
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Justin! We never would've guessed that you were gay! What a shocker! Pandora is about music, not your gayness, weirdo! Go gay trolling somewhere else!
Report as inappropriate
Skin tight!… Best album covers… Ever!
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harrellgl
I love the Ohio Players and their music. I was so excited when my sister told me her friend was the daughter of one of the players. Unfortunatel y , she didn't live long enough to get me an autograph.
Report as inappropriate
I love Sugarfoot. Rip 2013 gone too soon.
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Yes...I am Free. You thought I couldn't do without you.. Feels Wonderful!!
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alexandraabe l l a 1 7
❤❤❤❤❤❤
Report as inappropriate
DYT all day! Always the soul to my ears.
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Dayton, Ohio...what more can I say...Gettys b u r g , Cornel, Salem.
Those who know, know...Good Times!!
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F I R E!! #OldSchoolJa m s A l w a y s S o u n d G o o d - reminds me of movie RollBounce with Sweetness, lol.
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GreAt Musicians... . r i p sugarfoot
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hunterrachel 1 9 5 9
Genuine music!
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O yea this is most definitely a sho nuf blast from the past sho-you-righ t turn up the volume and rip off the knob
Report as inappropriate
The bass line - damn so nice ..... the state Ohio- gave birth to a lot of bad cats on the music tip. All I can say - thanks...... . . . . Skin Tight- Ohio Players
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The moments of all of our lives. Some of the happiest.
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dragonlady60 8 8
Brings back SWEET MEMORIES
Report as inappropriate
CRYPT KEEPER PLAYS THE CLASSICS AND OLDIES . OHIO PLAYERS
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This song rocked in Houston, TX.
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justinjenny4 9 5
❤❤❤❤❤
Report as inappropriate
Sweet sticky thang yesssss
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alexandraabe l l a 1 7
❤❤❤❤❤
Report as inappropriate
Work -YOUR-stuff -to -This!!
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Old School Funkin. Banger
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So happy they decided to put the WRONG lyrics up with the song. Nothing like seeing RHCP's crappy rap on a page with a true classic. SMH!
Report as inappropriate
Noone was killed in the song rollercoaste r . Its been said that they dont know where the screaming came from! Look it up.
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Ohio had the best music ever!!!
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What happen to the Exstscy album
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19sandy62
Heaven must be like this..
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The older I get - the better this sounds!
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dragonlady60 8 8
OP ONE OF THE BEST FUNK GROUPS
Report as inappropriate
moleculematt
Love Rollercoaste r .
Report as inappropriate
Give me a nother Clue
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❤❤❤❤❤
Report as inappropriate
I am enjoying as well, I have my 3 crates of vinyl...Ohio Players much respect...
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elw0214
The HBO series VINYL has me listening to 70's music once again.
Report as inappropriate
I wish that girl wasn't killed at the recording you can hear her scream on the record still haunts me today
Report as inappropriate
henry.simpso n 1
They're one of the best funk groove groups then. Still ' Ohio Players ' music is a gift to us. Ole School reigns over NEW groove. Your music inspires.
Report as inappropriate
They were the greatest I Love fire
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cbhurd7
Sweet Sticky Thing! Just saying
Report as inappropriate
Our community have to define, I Want To Be Free. Free for what & who? Replace the slave names, food, so - religion, laws etc.etc. yes, " I Want To Be Free" ! And it starts with me release the things that enslave me. "I Will Be Free"! Thanks.
Show more

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