"Play That Funky Music" is a funk rock song written by Rob Parissi and recorded by the band Wild Cherry. The performers on the classic recording included the members of the band at the time: lead singer Parissi, guitarist Bryan Bassett, bassist Allen Wentz, and drummer Ron Beitle, with session horn players Chuck Berginc, Jack Brndiar, Joe Eckert, and Rick Singer hired to play the horn riff that runs throughout the track's verses. The single hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 on September 18, 1976 and was also number one on the Hot Soul Singles chart. The single was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for shipments of over 2 million records, eventually selling 2.5 million in the United States alone.
Vanilla Ice later released a song featuring an interpretation of "Play That Funky Music". Songwriter Robert Parissi was not credited. Parissi was later awarded $500,000 in a copyright infringement lawsuit.
There is an edited version of "Play That Funky Music" without "white boy" that was released for radio airplay around the Boston area, as the original version was briefly banned in that area upon its original release. Instead of "white boy," the words, "yeah, funky music" were substituted (Epic cat# AE7 1107). That version is now a collector's item.
Eleveno made a dance floor, electro funk version in 2012.
Taylor Hicks sang "Play That Funky Music" on American Idol a week before he won.
In the sitcom Friends, Phoebe, who wants Ross to play his own compositions on his keyboard, encourages him by saying, "Play that funky music, white boy!". The song appeared in "Patch Boomhauer", an episode of the animated TV series King of the Hill. The song is also heard in a Season 3 episode of the US TV sitcom The Office.
Duracell used the song during a 1999 television commercial for their batteries. The character's car has a mechanical breakdown and is stranded on the side of the road. Installing batteries into his cell phone, he calls a tow truck company for assistance. The music on hold is Play That Funky Music and the character dances to the music in the middle of the road. As the caller on the phone returns, the character asks to be put back on hold (to listen to more of the song).
On an episode of The Oblongs, Bob Oblong sings the tune "Play that funky music, white boy. 'Till you die!"
In the last episode of Home Improvement (Backstage Pass), there is a montage of the Taylor family dancing to "Play That Funky Music."
Prato, Greg. "Wild Cherry – Artist Biography". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved July 12, 2014. "the group was accosted nightly between sets by fans who wanted them to "Play that funky music." It wasn't long before Parissi took heed and penned a song under the same title, an infectious ditty that merged funk and rock together."
The Instrumentalist, ed. (July 1996). "(M4) Play That Funky Music". The Instrumentalist50: 64. "This is a nice dance tune in a funk/rock beat that calls for some careful work with keys, ranges, and rhythms."