Ohio Players: Give Our Legends Their Flowers.

Legends will always reign supreme. Ohio Players will always be in the league of champions, because they have released nothing but IMMACULATE music. If you ask me, their discography is essential to our history as Black people.

They deserve their flowers because that catalog is tremendously good! Like seriously. They are easily one of the most sampled groups ever. Everyone from NWA, Mary J. Blige & D’Angelo have sampled and/or covered the greatness that is the Ohio Players.

The 1960s:

Albums Released: Observations in Time.

The band was formed in 1959, originally known as the Ohio Untouchables. The members at the time were Robert Ward, Marshall “Rock” Jones, Cornelius Johnson, Ralph “Pee Wee” Middlebrooks and Clarence “Satch” Satchell. At that time, they were a backing group for the Falcons.

The group broke up in 1964, & Ward was replaced by Leroy “Sugarfoot” Bonner. Bonner became the group’s front man, & the rest was history.

Their name changed to The Ohio Players, & their first album was released in 1969 on Capitol Records. Observations in Time. Their earlier recordings indicate the greatness that will eventually come!

The 1970s:

Albums Released: Pain, Pleasure, Ecstasy, Skin Tight, Fire, Honey, Contradiction, Angel, Mr. Mean, Jass-Ay-Lay-Dee, Everybody Up.

The Ohio Players’ parted ways once again after the release of their debut album. However, the members wanted to keep the group alive and eventually found a home at Westbound Records.

The group recorded Pain, & after positive responses to the record..they officially signed to the label and released the album “Pain.” This time around, their soulful and jazz sound was more experimental than ever.

With this album, aspects of their music & trademarks that would be showcased throughout their career would be evident: themes in their music that shows their appreciation and love for women, S&M, bondage and discipline imagery on their album covers.

The group’s first big hit came with “Funky Worm.” The song is notable for having ARP synthesizer solos, which has been a staple in G-funk music and sampling by hip hop artists.

The hits kept coming with songs like Ecstasy, but they eventually left Westbound to sign with Mercury.

The group’s debut album on the Mercury label “Skin Tight” was more successful than their previous albums combined. With successful hits like Jive Turkey (Part 1) & the title track, their dominance in the music industry for the next few years was simply immaculate. The group was untouchable.

Their album cut “Heaven Must Be Like This” is influenced by jazz and love. It’s greatness

Their Mercury albums became less inappropriately bizarre, & became more like Playboy covers. However, the music stayed true to its formula..making this group one of the most celebrated funk bands of the 1970s.

The group’s 6th album Fire was a number one album and the title track was a number one hit as well. Songs like “I Want To Be Free” is also greatness! Fire will always remain one of their greatest triumphs.

Our favorite group’s next album Honey was one of the group’s most controversial records, because of the album cover & the inside cover photo.

An urban legend exists because of screams that are heard on their number one hit “Love Rollercoaster.” If you listen to the album version, you’ll hear the screams between 2:32-2:36. According to rumors, the screams come from someone being murdered while the tape was rolling.

The screams come from group member Billy Beck, but the urban legends kept growing and growing until the point where it was rumored that the model for the album cover was screaming from the agonizing pains of the super heated honey for the photo shoot.

The hits kept coming with Sweet Sticky Thing & Who’d She Coo?

The group’s popularity dwindled at the end of the 70s, but that didn’t mean the hits stopped!

The 1980s:

Albums Released: Tenderness, Ouch!, Graduation, Back.

After leaving Mercury & Arista Records, the group signed to Boardwalk Records, & Released Tenderness & Ouch!

As the 80s went on, their subsequent albums did not match the success of their 70s albums, but they did have hits from their last studio album to date..”Back.” Songs Like Sweat & Let’s Play (From Now On) gave them hits on the R&B charts.

After the 80s, there were live albums recorded, but nothing else. The group still performs today with 3 of the original members (James Diamond Williams, Clarence Chet Willis & Billy Beck).

Lead singer Leroy “Sugerfoot” Bonner passed away in 2013, & countless others out of the original lineup.

The Ohio Players will always be remembered for their reign in the 70s, where they gave us QUALITY work and tunes that will to be appreciated throughout generations! 🙌🏾💙 -MJ.

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