The Ohio Players took funk into uncharted territory, bringing a jazzy, free form feel to chart-toppers like “Skin Tight,” “Heaven Must Be Like This,” and “Sweet Sticky Thing.”
The Ohio Players were one of the most successful funk collectives of all time with monster crossover hits throughout the 1970s like “Love Rollercoaster” and “Fire.” All frontman Leroy “Sugarfoot” Bonner had to do was drop an “aww girl” over a track and it was an instant hit. CP2 snapped this pic when Sugarfoot showed up inClevelandin 2011 performing all those hits plus some at Zack Reed’s annual Family Unity in the Park festival at Luke Easter. The guitar player and vocalist passed away Saturday, Jan. 26 in his hometown ofTrotwood-Dayton,Ohio. He was 69.
In an official announcement released on the legendary artist’s Facebook page, the family had this to say: “Sugarfoot was the founding and cornerstone artistic talent of Ohio Players and the face and sound of the Ohio Players brand, which he knit together and launched in 1964 with former members of The Ohio Untouchables. [His] career [spanned] 56 years. Humble yet charismatic, soft spoken and of few words, the weight of his thoughts, lyrics, and music has influenced countless other artists, songs, and trends. He will be missed but not forgotten as his legacy and music lives on.”
The Ohio Players took funk into uncharted territory, bringing a jazzy, free form feel to chart-toppers like “Skin Tight,” “Heaven Must Be Like This,” and “Sweet Sticky Thing.” Along the way, their super-sexy album covers that got nearly as much attention as their songs, and by lifestyle excess that led to a major drug bust; not to mention a notoriety so extreme that the group was rumored to have killed someone during a recording session that included the dying screams in the grooves of a song – Sugarfoot cleared this up in an interview with CP2 reporter Felicia C. Haney following his Cleveland performance flat out denying the claim.
The group was featured on an episode of TV One’s “Unsung” two weeks prior to this photo. The night it aired he posted this message on his Twitter page: “I am happy doing what I love,” . “This IS pure heaven. The fans out there are like family to me. Every night is like a homecoming.”
Ultimately, it was the I.R.S., and funky financial dealings among the Players themselves, that brought the group down. But not before they scored three platinum albums and 18 Top 40 hits over an eight year span, and left an indelible mark on the history and evolution of funk. By the time of this 2011 photo, Sugarfoot was still not in communication with his old band members, but let it be known that he was working on brand new music as a solo artist as well as continuing to tour with his own band, Sugarfoot’s Ohio Players, a nine-man collective.
Fans are free to leave thoughts, prayers, messages and memories on the band’s Facebook page of the same name.