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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: 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: 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: The Best Of Ohio Players

1. Love Rollercoaster

2. I Want To Be Free

3. Fopp

4. Let's Do It [Interpolated With "Let's Love"]

5. Skin Tight

6. Fire

7. Sweet Sticky Thing

8. Jive Turkey

9. Who'd She Coo

10. Heaven Must Be Like This

11. Ohio

12. Happy Holidays Pt. 1

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: 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

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: 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: 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: 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?

Comments

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Whosoever is going to be very remorseful.D e p i c t i n g a Standing COMMANDER-IN - C H I E F U.S.PRESIDEN T a s a 'newly discovered named(being a parasite)for . '
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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
❤❤❤❤❤
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Sweet sticky thang yesssss
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❤❤❤❤❤
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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!
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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
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moleculematt
Love Rollercoaste r .
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Give me a nother Clue
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❤❤❤❤❤
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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.
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I wish that girl wasn't killed at the recording you can hear her scream on the record still haunts me today
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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.
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They were the greatest I Love fire
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cbhurd7
Sweet Sticky Thing! Just saying
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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.
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Backyard BBQs you had to have Ohio players
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The Ohio Players had to be one group that truly made me want to play music for my life. I can't complain I've done well over the year's.
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Does anyone else remember Sugarfoot's solo album? That album was bad I had it on cassette!
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Old school music is good for your soul
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Hey this is. Old skool.the young folks of this today don't not no?




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19sandy62
LOVING THIS......
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S
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I think everyone should have something that is "skin tight". :)
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Jive Turkey!
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Great music of yesterday and today still sounds great love it
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I love all the Ohio players music. It takes me back to the real artist an their music
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The Ohio players the oldies reminds me out when me and my mom and niece catana flew to Oakland and that s poo ng was out n we stayed our cousin petes pink house on the hills and cousin Stacey took us alot of places we loved the Ohio players then and still love there music now.love you all still.
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Ha just talked with Gary Webster not too long ago. Much respect to this band here.
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Love roller coaster makes me want a shake it...
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for the love of you
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Skin tight
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I want be FREE
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Nice
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Yes
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Smooth song.
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I love this group.
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Oh yes !!!
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This is the era when Sista's made those jeans scream. A toast to the bump, bumpty bump.
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My group right there!!!
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Ohio players are great
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