"Play That Funky Music" is a song written by Rob Parissi and recorded by the band Wild Cherry. The single was the first released by the Cleveland-based Sweet City record label in April 1976 and distributed by Epic Records. The performers on the recording included lead singer Parissi, electric guitarist Bryan Bassett, bassist Allen Wentz, and drummer Ron Beitle, with session players Chuck Berginc, Jack Brndiar (trumpets), and Joe Eckert and Rick Singer (saxes) on the horn riff that runs throughout the song's verses. The single hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 on September 18, 1976; it 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 and eventually sold 2.5 million in the United States alone.
The song was listed at No. 93 on Billboard magazine's "All-Time Top 100 Songs" in 2018. It was also the group's only U.S. Top 40 song.
American rapper Vanilla Ice later released a song featuring an interpretation of "Play That Funky Music". Based on this single, the independent record label Ichiban Records signed Vanilla Ice to a record deal, releasing the album Hooked in January 1989, containing "Play That Funky Music" and its B-side, "Ice Ice Baby".
Songwriter Robert Parissi was not credited. Parissi was later awarded $500,000 in a copyright infringement lawsuit.
Canadian saxophonist Warren Hill covered the song on his 2005 album PopJazz.
An edited version of "Play That Funky Music", without "white boy", was released for radio airplay around the Boston area, as the original version was briefly banned in that area upon its original release. In place of "white boy," the words, "hey, funky music", were substituted (Epic cat# AE7 1107). That version is now a collector's item.
The song appears on the soundtrack of the film Evolution (2001) and on the open show Ces Gars-Là, a French-Canadian show on V Télé featuring the stand-up comic Sugar Sammy and Simon-Olivier Fecteau.
^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.