Ohio Players, Leroy Sugarfoot Bonner

Ohio Players, Leroy Sugarfoot Bonner



Ohio Players 2 Hour Spectacular: Featuring a 45 min Interview with Leroy "Sugarfoot" Bonner, Varee Is Love, Funky Worm, Walt’s First Trip, Pain, Pleasure, Ecstasy, Fire, Sweet Sticky Thing, Jive Turkey, Heaven Must be Like This, Fopp, I Want to be Free, Climax, Love Rollercoaster, Far East Mississippi, Who’d She Coo, O-H-I-O. Hosted by Bob Davis and ELP.

Concert Review: Sugarfoot’s Ohio Players, (Masters Of Funk) @ Dell Music Center in Philly (July 5th, 2010)

Bob Davis, Sugarfoot and ELP backstageThe newly refurbished Dell Music Center (formerly the Robin Hood Dell East-Essence of Entertainment) is up and running and running. The venue has all new seats, a good but not great sound system (surely that’ll work itself out as we go along) and some really nice landscaping. This will all make summer concert-going in the heart of North Philadelphia enjoyable while maintaining the same low-budget ticket costs of years gone by.

The worlds of soul, r&b, funk, jazz and even contemporary gospel will all joyously collide here and Soul Patrol will be on the scene giving you all some nice reviews of this classic black music. There will be two concerts promoted and produced by outside concerns called Platinum Productions. Kudos to Platinum Productions in keeping their promises of giving full access to Soul Patrol as we continue in our quest to bring you loyal Soul Patrollers reviews, information and images of the proceedings therein. Their other concert will feature Teena Marie and Keith Sweat.

The Masters of Funk are merely 2010’s version of the old UNITED WE FUNK tours of the 90’s and early new millennium. These tours usually cater to the 70’s funk crowd and have included the likes of The Gap Band, SOS Band, Lakeside, Confunkshun, The BarKays, The Ohio Players, The Dazz Band, Slave and others that neatly fit into the post-funk-pre-hip-hop music that ushered in and subsequently ran concurrent with disco and the emerging hip-hop/rap scene.

Tonight’s lineup was really no different with one notable exception: Sugarfoot’s Ohio Players.

Having said that I now will get into a masterful yet truncated Sugarfoot’s Ohio Players set. First of all let it be said here that Leroy ‘Sugarfoot’ Bonner is easily one of the great soul/funk icons of all time and as it turns out a wonderfully honest and loving human being. His awareness of all around him and his need to include that into the context of his compositions both musically and spiritually make him one of my funk heroes. We interviewed Mr.Bonner and it should be up on the Soul Patrol site by week’s end. I wont say anything else personally about the man because I don’t want to take away from this beautifully conducted interview involving myself, Bob Davis and Mr. Bonner.

There’s always a headliner of the actual Masters themselves. This band is the only band that shows up in complete and they take the stage as a band unto themselves. Other Masters Of Funk may perform with them but mostly it’s just that band’s set. This occurred before with The SOS Band and tonight this role was reserved for Sugarfoot’s Ohio Players.

Weaving in and out of the Master’s set smoothly, this version of the Ohio Players is soooooo good that it makes one wonder if we can get a Night with Sugarfoot’s Ohio Players-all to themselves playing ALL of the hits.

As George Clinton, Stanley Clarke and Charlie (Uncle Charlie) Wilson have done previously Mr. Bonner has assembled some fine YOUNG (clearly no one over thirty) musicians. He’s trained em, taken all of their chops and finely honed them to fit laser-like through the eye of a needle and in so doing has created a musical entity that comes as close to any of their recordings LIVE as any of the older Ohio Players groups have EVER done.

Ohio Players Onstage at the Dell eastThey KILLED Fopp, Skin Tight, I Want To Be Free and of course Fire. There was a new arrangement on Fire that was so hip and filled with musicality that it almost made me forget the original. They also played Love Rollercoaster. The crowd clearly was pleased immensely. It was clear from the opening notes that this wasn’t going to be like OP shows of the past. The horns and rhythm section were TIGHT, Sugar’s vocals were clear and lucid but unfortunately were often defeated by the system and most notably whatever the sound engineer was doing.

The problem here is that it’s all a bit loud and with no distinction. The presence of really great musicians helps to overcome this somewhat with their musicality, dynamics and overall professionalism but in 2010 this should absolutely NOT be a problem of any note.

Hire A Band




Ohio Players 2 Hour Spectacular: Featuring a 45 min Interview with Leroy "Sugarfoot" Bonner, Varee Is Love, Funky Worm, Walt’s First Trip, Pain, Pleasure, Ecstasy, Fire, Sweet Sticky Thing, Jive Turkey, Heaven Must be Like This, Fopp, I Want to be Free, Climax, Love Rollercoaster, Far East Mississippi, Who’d She Coo, O-H-I-O. Hosted by Bob Davis and ELP.


You’ve probably seen the funky intergalactic Intel Pentium commercials with "Love Rollercoaster" playing on the soundtrack. That’s the Ohio Players. (The Red Hot Chili Peppers also covered the song for the Beavis & Butthead film sndtrk., which got a lot of MTV play.)

The Ohio Players GOLD is always easy to find, if you want the choice hits on one CD. I think a double-disc anthology is also available. If you’re seeking the cream of ’70s funk, the Ohio Players deserve your attention as well as anybody. Sly Stone is an obvious influence on them, but what funk music since 1970 hasn’t been influenced by Sly?

Hard to say. It seems that the Ohio Players went through a number of phases in their career, just like any popular group did in the 70’s.

There is an album on the Edsel label called "OBSERVATIONS IN TIME", which is a reissue of an album they recorded for Capitol Records in 1968. You could probably compare this to the early Parliaments singles during the 60’s, as it shows a group in their prime, still starting out and trying to impress the world. The choices of covers are interesting: "Summertime", "Over The Rainbow", and "Mother In Law". This is a soul group trying to make moves, a far stretch from their early days as the Ohio Untouchables, but showing promise.

Then the group got signed to Westbound Records in Detroit. There are many fans who live by these albums, a mix of soul, some funk, and even some jazzy moments. Many hip hop artists have sampled the Westbound albums countless times, especially the slow squeal of "Funky Worm" (7" version).

Eventually the group was signed by Mercury Records. Not their first on a major, but the first time as major superstars. The move gave us such classics as "Fire", "Skin Tight", "Fopp", "Sweet Sticky Thing", and "Love Rollercoaster". The first few albums on Mercury were still knee deep in the funk, the smooth ballads (I’m sure many can still sing the lyrics to "Let’s Love"), and the disco jams. It was their "GOLD" album that highlighted their success on Mercury so far.

The albums they came out with after "GOLD" were good, but (at leasst to me) not as impressive as their early work.

Some of them have done solo work over the years, most notable Junie Morrison, who eventually hooked up with the P-Funk mob in the late 70’s. Sugarfoot collaborated with Herbie Hancock called "Five Alive" in the mid-80’s, thus raising awareness of the Ohio Players once again.

There have been a few reissues, compilations, and live albums released in the last few years, and one of the best is the "JAM" CD on Mercury. Pick it up.

These words are very true!

The Ohio Players were during the period when Sly became "unpredictable" and the emergence of Parliment probably the most commercially successful of the Funk bands with many hit records. They often get lost in the discussion, however you are correct. I saw them perform when they were at their height in 1974, they really "TORE THE ROOF OFF THE SUCKER!!

I’ll NEVER forget how the Ohio Players absolutely ROCKED the Pittsburgh Civic Arena that night….

And when they played the song


People went WILD…..it was a great show (Weather Report followed them)

Once again the comparasion is with P-Funk. At the beginning of the 70’s the Ohio Players were kinda like a "soul band", then they went off into a kind of "psychedelic blues/soul" band like Funkadelic was and they were even on the same label (Westbound Records).

Their hits during this period (Pain, Pleasure, Funky Worm, etc) were for the most part heard only on Black radio…..

A few years later, I suppose they saw the handwriting on the wall and changed up again to more of a "crossover funk" (not unlike the sound of Parliment) with BIG hits like Fire, Love Rollercoaster, I Want To Be Free, FOPP, Coo She Coo, Everbody Disco, etc.

Then they fizzled out!

The Funkadelics in DC were never upstaged by anybody…

Their was a similar concert concert in 76′ at Cole Field in Maryland where the Terps play featuring Bohannon, Natalie Cole, being the headliner..

Bohannon held somwhat his own, but Natalie, could not survive the funk… She got laughed at and walked out on.. Since there were two dates she was wisely put on in the middle and the Funk mob came on last..

In DC opening for the Funk it was a case of usually "you go first isms"

They headline cause they almost always "won the crowd over"

Yes you truly were young that that gal on the "Honey" lp is "all that"..

Yes and it was true as urban legand that the screams were that of someone being murdered in an adjacent studio..

It was revealed later it was Sugafoot As the story was reported the Players saw this as a "controversial" angle to sell records neither confirming or denying the story.. OP was one of the best bands to use overdubbing to create a sensual palette to their recordings.. Put on your headphones and you’ll hear lots of subtle nuisances. To a greater or lesser degree they ran out of creative gas never were quite able to sound live like they did on their Mercury recordings… Back then they were accused of using studio tricks that they could not replicate live..

Were they funky live..Hell yeah, but their Mercury were very smooth, which left many in the audience dismayed Seeing them live when they were on Westbound and Mercury there were stark contrasts..

Back then you had to sound like your record live, and during the Mercury period they didn’t, which between stiff lp’s and perceived erratic performances, caused their undoing..

But for many old the"old school"crowd OP has warm place on their hearts and live with decent "horn" section they can still kick it when they have to..

Makes perfect sense. Like some, I was exposed to the Ohio Players with their work on Mercury, more specifically the "HONEY" album. It wasn’t until a few years ago where I decided to go check out some of their earlier works, and I liked it a lot.


  • How about some "Sweet Sticky Thing," or "I Want to Be Free." Ohio Players are truly baddddddddddd……..
  • Somehow I knew you couldn’t possibly resist the Ohio Players.Have you ever seen these guys live ? ….I have πŸ™‚
  • Check this trade that a homeboy of mine made,I trades Boosty"Player Of the Year" for his Ohio Players"Angel"I think HE got Beat. But really the OP’s have alway been one of my Favorites.My favorite cut,well ONE of my favorite cuts is "Far East Mississippi".
  • I also dig "Far East Mississippi", it’s a great example of the versatility of the OP. The song shows that they could have been a pretty good Blues band if they had wanted. What else did you like by them ? OP’s one my favorites also. What about Who she Coo, and "Fopp"and what a Horn section.
  • I can flow with those two jams also ……..hey you just reminded me….about FIRE !!!!……………… FIRE !!!!……………… FIRE !!!!……………… FIRE !!!!……………… FIRE !!!!……………… FIRE !!!!……………… FIRE !!!!……………… FIRE !!!!……………… FIRE !!!!……………… FIRE !!!!……………… FIRE !!!!……………… FIRE !!!!……………… FIRE !!!!……………… FIRE !!!!……………… FIRE !!!!……………… FIRE !!!!……………… FIRE !!!!……………… FIRE !!!!……………… FIRE !!!!……………… FIRE !!!!……………… FIRE !!!!……………… FIRE !!!!……………… FIRE !!!!……………… FIRE !!!!……………… FIRE !!!!……………… FIRE !!!!……………… FIRE !!!!……………… FIRE !!!!……………… FIRE !!!!……………… FIRE !!!!……………… FIRE !!!!……………… FIRE !!!!……………… FIRE !!!!……………… "dum dum dum……dumdumdum" !! πŸ™‚
  • What about some slow ohio players.Let’s Love,and angel,also I don’t dont want to be alone.Hey and did they have a song named "It’s all over"remember,put that suitcase down you ain’t leaving town cause I want you around.
  • interestin’ bit of info i learned about the ohio players.they never went into a recording session with any pre-conceived melodies, lyrics or chords in mind.they just improvised it all with only an engineer in the studio.. HALF..who learned that while patiently waiting for the RHCP remake to come on the radio..{s ant’ny} !!
  • Told ya….Everybody LUVZ the OP’s. "Heaven Must Be Like This", "Everybody Disco", "I want to Be Free". We can go on and on…… Anybody have any info on what they may be up these days????? P.S.- Far East Mississippi was "DA BOMB"
  • My favorites are Free, Skintight, Fire, and Love Rollercoaster. And by the way, I love the LP covers too!!!
  • "Everybody Disco" was probably the 2nd best Disco song I ever heard. "Dazz" is of course the first !! What I find interesting about both of these cuts is that although they both use the term "Disco" neither of them sound like Disco to me !!! These are both MONSTER FUNK jams of the first degree !!! still tryin to figure out this whole "Disco Thang"
  • YOU ARE SOOO RIGHT. EVERYBODY DISCO IS NOT "DISCO" BUT PURE FUNK….(DAZZ WAS BADD TOO !) AND YES, I HAVE SEEN THEM LIVE, AWESOME SHOW……. SWEAT STICKY THING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can remember back in 1974 & 75 when we partied at FSU to FIRE. They are totally awesome. Whatever happened to them? They just seemed to disappear. Haven’t heard anything from them in a long time.
  • Their album covers were all very controversial, and avant garde…dont you think? Remember the one with the bald woman and the chains??? Their covers were way ahead of their time, and remain classic examples of (some) Black eroticism. I would have thought your favorite Ohio Players song would been "Sweet Sticky Thing" and your favorite Ohio Playes album would be "Honey" !! (for the obvious reasons !!) Honey
  • I really love sly stones music. i’ve read by the mid 70’s sly was so drugged out that the ohio players were playing sly stone style music, better than him.dunno if that’s true? I don’t like imitators usually. Assuming the ohio players found their own sound eventually , what is their PEAK lp in the sly stone style of funk? thanks. –
  • What are some songs by the Ohio Players that you like?
  • I don’t know what songs (if any) that i’ve heard any ohio players. i’m asking for the best lp at what they do via their style. maybe i’ll hate their sound? myabe not? I am CERTAIN that you have heard songs by the Ohio Players. During the 1970’s they would have been IMPOSSIBLE to avoid since they had many hit records that crossed over into "pop radio" Here are a few albums you can look for……:) – Pain – Pleasure – Skin Tight – Fire – Ecstasy Just like P-Funk, the album covers of the Ohio Players are works of art unto themselves….lol Check them out and if you do….let us know what you think of them?
  • "there’s worm in the ground yes he is, he lives 6 ft down, he only comes around….well he LOVES to get down and when he comes out of his HOLE he sounds something like this…"
  • Who are the Ohio Players? Are they funky? Are they from Ohio? Are they Players? Are they TruPlayas?
  • I only gave you a part of the lineup, here’s the rest… 1. Funkadelic (who at that time was ALWAYS nothing but an opening act and in this case were playing with the lights on as the crowd was still coming into the arena!) 2. Natalie Cole (who was then on the chats with her first record "This Will Be"….I have NO IDEA what she was doing on this bill, she is NOT funky in the least…lol) 3. Herbie Mann (who at that time was riding high on the charts with the song "Hijack") 4. Ohio Players 5. Weather Report – (As I recall the album "Mysterious Traveler" was out at that time. The performance that Weather Report gave that night was ASTOUNDING, it was absolutely the loudest that I have ever heard ANY band play!) 6. George Benson (He closed the show I suppose because he was a native of Pittsburgh so I guess the promoters figured that George would go over big with the hometown crowd. He didn’t and it wasn’t his fault either. There was simply no way that ANYONE, except for maybe Jimi Hendrix could have followed Weather Report that night! The Pittsburgh Civic Arena has a retractable roof, however Weather Report would have TORE THE ROOF OFF THE SUCKER without the roof being removable πŸ™‚ After I left the show I could still hear the band playing in my ears πŸ™‚ Poor George Benson, this was before he went "commercial" and he stood up there playing songs in a "Wes Mongomeryeque" mode and sounded like a mere whisper compared to the ..FUNK BOMB that Weather Report had just laid on us! People started walking out on poor George and I felt sorry for him.
  • That’s weird, the Ohio Players opening for Weather Report. That sort of thing would never, never happen today.
  • Yeah,that does sound like a strange bill…..
  • The show had been billed as a "Funk Festival" and get this, the ticket price was only $6.00!
  • Looks like an awesome night. These days the promoters would probably open the evening with Cole and Benson (if they were included in a "funk" festival at all), go to Mann and WR, then climax with Funkadelic and Ohio Players (the clearest attractions to a "funk" audience groomed by narrowcasting of MTV and segmented market-researched radio). And half the crowd would only begin to show up in the middle of Weather Report’s set. George Benson and Weather Report headlining a Funk Festival just blows my mind….
  • In today’s marketplace this concert probably couldn’t take place at all. The market has become far to stratified and predictable! (and THAT is a loss for us all)
  • I’ve said this many times over the years. One of the most joyful concert events of my life was a Herbie Mann show at the Schaefer Music Festival in Central Park’s Wollman Rink, summer of 1969. Everybody in that arena was dancing. And remember, the guitarist was Sonny Sharrock! You need to go to a New Orleans Jazzfest. iIt’s all there. And it’s good.
  • Hey Anybody remember the "Love rollercoaster"scream that was supposed to be a murder back stage?? I remember those rumors circulating back at the time I suppose that there is no way of confirming them since there were never any criminal charges brought at the time. There were also rumors of "snuff films". I guess that’s what happens when you choose "B&D" for the subject matter of your album covers !! Back when I was in high school the rumor that circulated about the screams at the start of Love Rollercoaster went a little like this. The model used for cover of Honey (wasn’t it Ester Cordet?) anyway got stuck to the plexiglass after doing her recling nude covered in honey pose for over an hour. The photog and his assistant couldn’t unstick her so they went to get someone. The band heard of her predicament and one of them brought a tape recorder as they descended on her pretending that they were all going to lick her until she was free !
  • Talking about Ohio Players, when my oldest brother joined the Navy in 79, he entrusted me with his record collection. Amongst the Uriah Heep, Head East, Peter Frampton (one of my earliest childhood memories is hearing the guitar solo on the live version of Do You Feel Like We Do), and David Bowie records were a couple Ohio Players albums (recently when talking about this issue, he wrote that off as his "disco phase" though I told him OP were mucho funky!). Anywho, the first time I ever saw a picture of naked woman was on the covers of Honey and Fire! And this was when I was 7! And I was too stupid to know necessarily if they were girls (come on, you’ve gotta admit the one on the cover of Honey does kinda look she coulda been a he), and I won’t go into details about the other puzzlements that confused me about that album cover (how many 7 year old boys do YOU know who know what a naked female looks like, and how said appearance differs from the male???). Anywho, a couple years back I was listening to a radio show and the topic of urban legends came up, and specifically one revolving around Love Rollercoaster was brought to the fore. According to the explanation these guys were giving (which were from like 20 year old memories), there was a scream on the song, and the story that went around was that a woman was murdered in the studio next door while the song was being recorded, and the sound couldn’t be removed from the tapes. Besides the ridiculousness of this story (you can’t hear what’s going in another studio, never mind accidentally recording something that’s going on there) it always seemed to me to be silly that the band would knowingly release the song with the "evidence" intact (at worst I think they would have done another take to fix the problem). Anyway, so one day I’m going through some records and found the Ohio Players discs that my brother had given me and realised I had Love Rollercoaster, so I gave it a listen. About 3/4’s of the way through the disc, you can very faintly hear a woman, moaning, not screaming, as if to imply she’s having a really good time (if you know what I ean). Anybody else ever hear this story? May you never thirst!
  • all the versions of this particular "urban legend" as well as the ohio players DOCUMENTED explanation for this can be found at: http://pages.prodigy.com/freakystyley/ur_leg.htm
  • May I? The players to me were great jazz musicians. Leroy "Sugarfoot" Bonner (the lead vocalist known for that "owww gahrl!) Was as much a blues guitarist as anyone. Wow, what a genius. Their keyboardist, Billy Beck, joined the Zapp/Roger team in the early 80’s well after OP had fell off. OP, like Sly himself had fallen into drugs. Check out OP in Sinbad’s first summer jam ever. OP played monster, grungy funk. The stuff that makes you sweat even when it’s 55 degrees outside. -Peace & Love, Keith
  • I Know you directed this one to bob…however….LOL Since The Ohio Players are near and dear t my heart… I had to Get in on this….As to whether or not they are funky….Just take a listen to Far East Mississippi, Fopp, Love Roller Coaster.. I Want to be free, Angel..etc..yes they are from Ohio..Dayton to be exact…as to whether or not they are or wherem tru players…..lol….well I cant answer that one !!!.. But Im sure that by lookin at the album covers…they thought they where…If you dont have any O.P. in your collection GEt busy..what you waitin on ?? You wont be sorry !!!
  • ^5 to ya on that !!! I cant ever get enough of the Ohio Players….lol maybe my last name has something to do with my last name ??? (Bonner)…anyway I was always kinda partial to the Drummer….heeheehee…but seriously…the Ohio Players had it goin on back in the day…for me one of the best funk bands around…They will always rate in my top ten…
  • Your comment about OP being "players" made me think of something…for whatever reason, I was recently thinking about the image they tried to put across in their photos on at least Fire and Honey. I’m thinking more of the band photos than the…uh, "female pictorials" (and you KNOW if anyone tried to do something like that on a major label, they’d be shut down by the "politically correct" powers that be). It seemed like they were trying to make present themselves as being "players", as it were. I forget which band member it is, but I know one of the covers, there’s a picture of one of them wearing this outfit, with the hat and the cane and shades, he looked like he had just stepped out of Shaft or Superfly or something like that. They were definitely trying to present themselves as the last word in "COOL AND FUNKY".
  • This past summer I actually met Leroy "Sugarfoot" Bonner (lead singer and STANK FUNKY guitarist for the Ohio Players) in person. Up close and personal he kinda reminded me of John Lee Hooker (my idol) ……lol
  • . And yes, Carrie, it is a "Bonner" thang! πŸ™‚ OWWW GAHRL!!! πŸ™‚ -Keith


Ohio Players 2 Hour Spectacular: Featuring a 45 min Interview with Leroy "Sugarfoot" Bonner, Varee Is Love, Funky Worm, Walt’s First Trip, Pain, Pleasure, Ecstasy, Fire, Sweet Sticky Thing, Jive Turkey, Heaven Must be Like This, Fopp, I Want to be Free, Climax, Love Rollercoaster, Far East Mississippi, Who’d She Coo, O-H-I-O. Hosted by Bob Davis and ELP.

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