Ohio Players

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Ohio Players
Also known as The Ohio Untouchables
Origin Dayton, Ohio, United States
Genres Funk, Disco, R&B, soul
Years active 1959 (1959)–2002 (2002)
Labels Westbound, Mercury, Arista, Boardwalk
Website Official website
Past members Cornelius Johnson
Walter "Junie" Morrison
Leroy "Sugarfoot" Bonner
Marshall "Rock" Jones
Robert "Rumba" Jones
Billy Beck
Wes Boatman
Dean Simms
Mervin Pierce
Ralph "Pee Wee" Middlebrooks
Jimmy Sampson
Vincent Thomas
James "Diamond" Williams
Clarence Willis
Greg Webster
Bruce Napier
Andrew Noland
Clarence "Satch" Satchell
Bobby Lee Fears
Dutch Robinson
Robert Ward
Charles Dale Allen

The Ohio Players were an American funk and R&B band, most popular in the 1970s. They are best known for their songs "Fire" and "Love Rollercoaster". Gold certifications, records selling at least one million copies, were awarded to the singles "Funky Worm", "Skin Tight", "Fire", and "Love Rollercoaster"; plus to their albums Skin Tight, Fire, and Honey. On August 17, 2013, The Ohio Players were inducted into the inaugural class of the Official R&B Music Hall of Fame that took place at Cleveland State University in Cleveland, Ohio.


The band formed in Dayton, Ohio in 1959 as the Ohio Untouchables and initially included members Robert Ward (vocals/guitar), Marshall "Rock" Jones (bass), Clarence "Satch" Satchell (saxophone/guitar), Cornelius Johnson (drums), and Ralph "Pee Wee" Middlebrooks (trumpet/trombone). They were best known at the time as a backing group for The Falcons.[1]

Ward had proved to be an unreliable leader, who would sometimes, during gigs, walk off the stage, forcing the group to stop playing. Eventually, the group vowed to keep playing even after he left. Ward and Jones got into a fistfight in 1964, after which the group broke up.[2]

Ward found new backups, and the group's core members returned to Dayton. They replaced Ward with 21-year-old Leroy "Sugarfoot" Bonner (guitar), who would become the group's front man, and added Gregory Webster (drums).[1][2] To accommodate Bonner's musical style preferences for the group ("R&B with a little flair to it") and to avoid competing with Ward, the group changed their format.[2] By 1965, the group had renamed themselves the Ohio Players, reflecting its members' self-perceptions as musicians and as ladies' men.[2]

The group added two more singers, Bobby Lee Fears and Dutch Robinson, and became the house band for the New York-based Compass Records. In 1967, they added vocalist Helena Ferguson Kilpatrick, who had just returned from George Gershwin's European Tour of Porgy and Bess.[citation needed]

The group disbanded again in 1970. After again re-forming with a line-up including Bonner, Satchell, Middlebrooks, Jones, Webster, trumpeter Bruce Napier, vocalist Charles Dale Allen, trombonist Marvin Pierce, and keyboardist Walter "Junie" Morrison, the Players had a minor hit on the Detroit-based Westbound label in with "Pain" (1971), which reached the Top 40 of the Billboard R&B chart. James Johnson joined the group at this time as vocalist and saxophonist. Dale Allen shared co-lead vocals on some of the early Westbound material, although he was not credited on their albums Pain and Pleasure.[citation needed] It was at Westbound Records where the group met George Clinton, admired their music. The two albums' avante-garde covers featured a spiked-black leather-bikini clad, bald model Pat "Running Bear" Evans, who would later grace additional Ohio Players albums, including Climax, Ecstasy, and Gold.[2][3][4][5][6]

The band's first big hit single was "Funky Worm", which reached No. 1 on the Billboard R&B chart and made the Top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 in early 1973. It sold over one million copies and was awarded a gold disc by the R.I.A.A. in May of that year.[7] The band signed with Mercury Records in 1974. By then, their line-up had changed again, with keyboardist Billy Beck instead of Morrison and Jimmy "Diamond" Williams on drums instead of Webster. On later album releases, they added second guitarist/vocalist Clarence "Chet" Willis and conga player Robert "Rumba" Jones. Meanwhile, keyboardist Walter "Junie" Morrison recorded three albums on his own before joining Funkadelic as the force behind their hit One Nation Under a Groove.

The band had seven Top 40 hits between 1973 and 1976. These included "Fire" (No. 1 on both the R&B and pop chart for two weeks and one week respectively in February 1975 and another million seller) and "Love Rollercoaster" (No. 1 on both the R&B and pop charts for one week in January 1976; another gold disc recipient).[7] The group also took on saxophonist James Johnson. The group's last big hit was "Who'd She Coo?" a No. 1 R&B hit in August 1976. It was their only success in the United Kingdom, where it peaked at No. 43 on the UK Singles Chart in July 1976.[8]


Clarence Satchell (born 15 April 1940) died 30 December 1995 after suffering a brain aneurysm;[citation needed] Ralph Middlebrooks (born 20 August 1939) died in November 1997;[citation needed] and Robert Ward (born 15 October 1938) died at home 25 December 2008.[9] Cornelius Johnson (born 12 July 1937) died 1 February 2009.[10] Leroy "Sugarfoot" Bonner (born 14 March 1943, Hamilton, OH) died 26 January 2013 at age 69.[11] Marshall Jones (born 1 January 1941, Dayton, OH) resides in Jamestown, Ohio, and is the only surviving member from the Mercury line-up. [1]


Studio albums[edit]

Year Album Peak chart positions Certifications
(sales threshold)
Record label

1969 Observations in Time Capitol
1972 Pain 177 21 Westbound
Pleasure 63 4
1973 Ecstasy 70 19
1974 Skin Tight 11 1 15 Mercury
Fire 1 1 17
1975 Honey 2 1 36
1976 Contradiction 12 1 26
1977 Angel 41 9 58
Mr. Mean 68 11 65
1978 Jass-Ay-Lay-Dee 69 15
1979 Everybody Up 80 19 Arista
1981 Tenderness 165 49 Boardwalk
Ouch! 201
1984 Graduation Century Vista
1988 Back 55 Track Record
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Live albums[edit]

Compilation albums[edit]

Year Album Peak chart positions Certifications
(sales threshold)
Record label

1972 First Impressions Trip
1974 The Ohio Players 32 Capitol
Climax 102 24 Westbound
1975 Greatest Hits 92 22
Rattlesnake 61 8
1976 Gold 31 10 28 Mercury
1977 The Best of the Early Years, Vol. 1 58 Westbound
1995 Funk on Fire: The Mercury Anthology Mercury
1998 Orgasm: The Very Best of the Westbound Years Westbound
2000 20th Century Masters: Millennium Collection - The Best of the Ohio Players Mercury
2008 Gold [2008] [18] [19] Island/Mercury
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.


Year Single Peak chart positions

1967 "Neighbors"
1968 "Trespassin'" 50
"It's a Crying Shame"
1969 "Bad Bargain"
"Find Someone to Love"
1971 "Pain (Part 1)" 64 35 91
1972 "Pleasure" 45
"Varee Is Love"
1973 "Funky Worm" 15 1 50
"Ecstasy" 31 12
"Sleep Talk"
1974 "Jive Turkey (Part 1)" 47 6 71
"Skin Tight" 13 2 19
"Fire" [A] 1 1 5
1975 "I Want to Be Free" 44 6 51
"Sweet Sticky Thing" 33 1 60
"Love Rollercoaster" 1 1 2
1976 "Fopp" 30 9 43
"Rattlesnake" 90 69
"Who'd She Coo?" [B] 18 1 63
"Far East Mississippi" 26
1977 "Feel the Beat (Everybody Disco)" 61 31
"Body Vibes" 19
"O-H-I-O" 45 9 88
"Merry Go Round" 77
"Good Luck Charm (Part 1)" 101 51
1978 "Magic Trick" 93
"Funk-O-Nots" 105 27
"Time Slips Away" 53
1979 "Everybody Up" 33
1981 "Try a Little Tenderness" 40
"Skinny" 46
"The Star of the Party"
1984 "Sight for Sore Eyes" 83
1988 "Sweat" 50
"Let's Play (From Now On)" 33
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c McGinn, Andrew (May 30, 2009). "Ohio Players bassist retires to funky town — Jamestown". Springfield (Ohio) News-Sun. Retrieved 2011-06-29. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Season 4/Episode 31- 'The Story of The Ohio Players'". Unsung. July 4, 2011. 
  3. ^ "The Bald & The Beautiful". art nouveau. November 23, 2011. 
  4. ^ "The Ohio Players Ladies". Hymie's Vintage Records. May 17, 2011. 
  5. ^ Sweetlocs (November 6, 2012). "10 Pioneering Models of Color". Eric Roberson Music. 
  6. ^ Uwumarogi, Victoria (February 12, 2014). "Black Beauties to Know and Love: Model Pat Evans". Madame Noire. 
  7. ^ a b Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. pp. 332, 348, 349 & 362. ISBN 0-214-20512-6. 
  8. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 405. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  9. ^ Cartwright, Garth (2009-03-04). "Obituary: Robert Ward". The Guardian. guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 2011-06-29. 
  10. ^ Soulwalking.co.uk band profile (accessed 27 January 2013)
  11. ^ Death notice from WTLC 106.7 FM Indianapolis, 27 January 2013 (accessed 27 January 2013)
  12. ^ a b c d "US Albums Charts > Ohio Players". Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-06-08. 
  13. ^ a b c "CAN Charts > Ohio Players". RPM. Retrieved 2012-01-14. 
  14. ^ a b c d e f "US Certifications > Ohio Players". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 2012-01-14. 
  15. ^ Discogs - Ol' School - 1996 CD, Essential Music (ESMCD 443) UK & Europe
  16. ^ Discogs - Jam - 1996 CD, Mercury (314 532 406-2) US
  17. ^ Discogs - Live 1977 - 2013 2-vinyl, Goldenlane Records (CLP 1080) US
  18. ^ allmusic - Gold (2008) compilation 2-CD, Mercury Records (B0010821-02)
  19. ^ muziekweb - Gold (2) compilation 2-CD, Universal Music B.V. (00602517626317)
  20. ^ a b "US Singles Charts > Ohio Players". Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-06-08. 

External links[edit]