The Ohio Players Biography

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Birth Place: Dayton, Ohio, United States
Years Active: 1959-1997
Genres: Funk, R&B, Soul


The Ohio Players were an American funk and R&B band, most popular in the 1970s. They are best known for their double #1 hit songs "Fire" and "Love Rollercoaster".

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).

The Ohio Untouchables broke up in 1963 with Ward leaving for a solo career, but the core members of the group returned to Dayton and added Gregory Webster (drums) and Leroy "Sugarfoot" Bonner (guitar) in 1964. 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.

The group disbanded again in 1970. After again reforming 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, Michigan based Westbound label in 1971 with "Pain," which reached the Top 40 of the Billboard R&B Chart. Dale Allen shared co-lead vocals on some of the early Westbound material, although he was not credited on their albums “Pain and Pleasure.”

The band's first big hit single was "Funky Worm", which reached #1 on the Billboard R&B chart and made the Top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the spring of 1973. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc by the R.I.A.A. in May of that year.

The band signed with Mercury Records in 1974. By this time, 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.

The band had seven Top 40 hits between 1973 and 1976. These included "Fire" (#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" (#1 on both the R&B and pop charts for one week in January 1976; another gold disc recipient). The group's last big hit was "Who'd She Coo?" a #1 R&B hit in August 1976.

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