Thursday Throwback – The Ohio Players

When it comes to funk, one can’t go wrong jamming The Ohio Players.  They’re definitely an essential item in the R&B/funk diet.  The band formed in Dayton, Ohio in the late 1950s and, after a few growing pains, they caught their stride about ten years later.  In the 1970s they released some of the most popular tunes of the decade.  Their second and third albums entitled Pain and Pleasure respectively, were both released in 1972.  Pleasure brought the single “Funky Worm”, which rose to the top of the Billboard R&B chart, making it the group’s first number one hit but definitely not their last.  The group’s fan base began to grow as they gained a reputation as the “in your face” funk group with a killer horn section, not to mention album cover art that was pretty risqué for the time.  They continued to hit the charts with now classic cuts like “Jive Turkey,” “Skin Tight,” “FOPP,” “Sweet Sticky Thing,” “I Want To Be Free,” and “Fire.” The band’s music continues to influence and inspire artists of every genre, from D’Angelo–who covered the band’s “Heaven Must Be Like This”–to The Red Hot Chili Peppers, who added a rock flair to the song “Love Rollercoaster” (complete with kazoos covering the horn parts); not to mention the couple of hundred hip hop songs that have sampled Ohio Players’ tunes.  Now, serious old school fans will remember guitarist Leroy “Sugarfoot” Bonner, who released the single “I’m Your Sugar” from his 1985 solo album Sugar Kiss.  Sugarfoot continues to lead the band as they tour as Sugarfoot’s Ohio Players, complete with a nine-piece band, horn section and a whole mess of funk.

–Montrose Cunningham

Montrose Cunningham is an independent funk/rock/soul artist and devoted music aficionado residing in Dallas, Texas. When he isn’t digging through the crates–digital and analog–he’s jamming with his band or hanging with his daughters; sometimes both at the same time. Purchase his latest release “Inertia” at, on visit him online at Facebook, and follow him on Twitter @MontroseC.



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