ohio players

One of the 70s Best – The Ohio Players

One of the 70’s Best – The Ohio Players


ohio players


It was early 1976 when I heard the song “Love Rollercoaster”. Even as a young 13-year-old I knew this song was go to be great. I didn’t know what they were singing about but I knew the music was awesome.

Shortly after that eventful day I heard the entire “Honey” album which included “Love Rollercoaster”. Each song was impressive to say the least. I loved them all. They had me dancing and singing for hours. After hearing this album I went back and listed to “Skin Tight” and “Fire”. Both told me that the Ohio Players would be a force to be reckoned with.



The Ohio Players came on the scene as the Ohio Untouchables in the late 50s. However, it wasn’t until they signed with Mercury records in 1974 that they hit national success. It was also at that time they also established the lineup that made them a success.

The original group (The Ohio Untouchables) consisted of singer/guitarist Robert Ward, bassist Marshall “Rock” Jones, saxophonist/guitarist Clarence “Satch” Satchell, drummer Cornelius Johnson, ohio playersand trumpeter/trombonist Ralph “Pee Wee” Middlebrooks.

Only Jones, Satch and Pee Wee were present in the 1974 lineup. Completing the “new look” Ohio Players was the legendary singer/guitarist Leroy “Sugarfoot” Bonner, drummer James “Diamond” Williams, keyboardist Billy Beck and trombonist Marvin Pierce.

The new Ohio Players established a sound unmatched by any other group. Their music was known for the driving horns, strong drum lines and that “Sugarfoot” voice. They showed themselves as a group of respected and talented musicians. They also established a consistency with their provocative album covers.

A Lucky Young Man

In 1979, I had the chance to meet “Pee Wee” in St. Petersburg, Florida. Unfortunately, it was at that time the group lost some of its members. “Pee Wee” was very down to earth and took the time to talk to me and my step-brother. However, “Sugarfoot” was devastated over the group’s breakup and didn’t talk to us. I came to understand later why but as a teenager I definitely wanted to meet him.

ohio playersSummary

The success of the Ohio Players in the 70s certainly made them one of the music industry’s premiere groups. Between 1972 and 1976 they had three platinum albums (“Skin Tight”, “Fire” and “Honey”) and three gold albums (“Pain”, “Contradiction” and “Gold”). Five of those were in a row.

“Fire” and “Love Rollercoaster” were their biggest selling singles. Both songs made number one on the US charts. Add to that “Who’d She Coo” and “Sweet Sticky Thing” which made number one on the R&B charts and you can easily see why this group is considered one of the best.

This group’s 70’s sound has gone down in music history. In 2013, they were inducted into the Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame. They will long be remembered for their talent, powerful drums, and yes, don’t forget the album covers.