Ohio Players is a popular r&b and funk band from the 1970’s. They are best known for their breakout-hit singles “Fire” and “Love Rollercoaster.” They are also known for their provocative album covers. Their album covers mostly featured women who were nude or nearly nude. They were inducted in the Rhythm and Blues Music Hall of Fame in 2013.
The band formed in Ohio in 1959. The band originally included Robert Ward (vocalist/guitar player), Marshall “Rock” Jones (bass player), Clarence “Satch” Satchell (saxophone/guitarist), Cornelius Johnson (drum) and Ralph “Pee Wee” Middlebrooks (trumpet/trombone). They got their start by being a back up group for The Falcons. Unfortunately, Ward wasn’t the best lead singer. He displayed unprofessional behavior by walking off stage while they were performing. Ward ended up fighting with Jones. This led to the band breaking up. The lead singer was replaced with Leroy “Sugarfoot” Bonner. He became the front man. The band also added Gregory Webster to play the drums. The group changed their style of music and became Ohio Players in 1965.
The band added two more singers to the group. They added Bobby Lee Fears and Dutch Robinson to the band. In 1967, they added female vocalist Helena Ferguson Kilpatrick to the band. The group ended up breaking up again. There was a new lineup including Bonner, Satchell, Middlebrooks, Jones and Webster. Bruce Napier (trumpeter), Charles Dale Allen (vocalist), Marvin Pierce (trombone) and Walter “Junie” Morrison (keyboardist) were also in the band. They had a minor hit in 1971 called “Pain.” It reached the top 40 on the r&b charts. James Johnson joined the band as a vocalist and saxophone player.
They recorded their first album Observations in Time in 1969. The album was a local hit in Ohio. The album features the singles “Over the Rainbow” and “Summertime.” Their second album did better than their debut album. Pain was released in 1972. The album featured romantic and sexy songs. The romantic and sexy songs are what the band would become known for throughout their time in the music business. This album was the first one to feature suggestive photos of women on their album covers. The album features the singles “Pain” and “If You Were (My Woman).” The album sold over 500,000 copies.
The band released their third album Pleasure in 1972. The songs on this album were radio friendly. This features the number one r&b hit “Funky Worm.” Different hip-hop and r&b artists throughout the years sampled this single. They released their fourth album Ecstasy in 1973. It features the hit single “Ecstasy.” They released their fifth album Skin Tight in 1974. This album was a turning point for the band. They changed their style of music to become more of a jazzy and funk band. This album started a trend of platinum-selling albums for the band. It gave them a bigger audience. This album performed better than all of their albums. It features the singles “Skin Tight” and “Heaven Must Be Like This.”
They released their sixth album Fire in 1974. This was another hit album for the band. The lead single “Fire” topped both the pop and r&b charts. The album also features the single “I Want to Be Free.” This album went platinum. They released their seventh album Honey in 1975. This is considered one of the bands best albums. The album peaked at number two on the Billboard 200 charts and number one on the r&b charts. It features the singles “Sweet Sticky Thing,” “Love Rollercoaster” and “Fopp.” This album went platinum.
The band released their eighth album Contradiction in 1976. This album doesn’t feature as many ballads as Honey. It features the singles “Who’d She Coo?” and “Far East Mississippi.” This album went gold. They released their ninth album Angel in 1977. It features the singles “Body Vibes,” “O-H-I-O” and “Merry Go Round.” They went on to record several more albums as well as compilation albums throughout the years.
Ohio Players’ music transcended over the years to a point where other artists wanted to sample their work. They changed their style of music throughout the years, but managed to score several hits. They have several hit songs (especially on the r&b charts) that could have made the list, but we had to narrow it down to 10 songs. This Top 10 Ohio Players Songs list will feature some of their hit songs. Will your favorite be number one?
# 10 – Skin Tight
We will start this Top 10 Ohio Players Songs list with the party song “Skin Tight” from the album of the same name. This upbeat song has a soul and funk sound. The flirty song is about a woman wearing skintight clothes. The song isn’t necessarily known for the lyrics. In fact, there aren’t that many lyrics in the song. It has few lines and mostly consists of the singers repeating the name of the song. This song is basically more about the music. The incomparable bass lines steal the song. It has a bluesy and jazzy sound to give it a jazzy/funk beat. The horns also make an appearance in the song and manage to keep up with the fantastic flow of the bass lines. The drum bass has a fast beat that never lets up. The song is a little long and could use more lyrics, but it’s great if you want to dance to it.
# 9 – Funky Worm
The next song on our Top 10 Ohio Players Songs list is the quirky song “Funky Worm” from the Pleasure album. This song has a funk and r&b sound. This mysterious song is about a worm that goes to mysterious places. It features their signature granny voice by Morrison. They took a chance with this novelty song because there aren’t too many people who would sing a song about a worm. There also aren’t too many songs that feature a skit. The music in this song was influential because a lot of hip-hop artists sampled this song. It’s features a distinct whining sound throughout the song. It has a great synthesizer as well as an incredible guitar riff. The music has a Middle Eastern sound that makes it sound different. When Morrison isn’t doing the granny skit, he uses a baritone vocal, which blends well with the music. This is an odd song, but they managed to make it a hit.
# 8 – O-H-I-O
This simple song is from the Angel album. This song has a disco, r&b and funk sound. This chanting song is a tribute to their home state. The song features easy lyrics because they are singing the word “Ohio” throughout the song as well as spelling the word. It isn’t hard to remember the lyrics because they don’t say much throughout the song. The horns are on fire. They are loud and pumping. The funky drums are amazing. The music makes it impossible to sit still. It is designed to get you on the dance floor. You don’t have to be from Ohio to appreciate the song. The point of the song isn’t to focus on the lyrics. It’s to appreciate the incredible music. The song isn’t that long, but it didn’t need to be since it’s just them repeating the name of the song. It does have an abrupt ending that should have been smoother, but it doesn’t hurt the song.
# 7 – Fopp
This energetic song is from the hit album Honey. This song has an r&b and funk sound. This mysterious song is about dancing. You might have to search the lyrics to get the meaning of the song because some people may not be familiar with the title. You also may not be able to understand everything they are saying. This song was covered by a lot of rock bands. Van Halen and Soundgarden covered the song. The song is undeniably funky. The drums are prominent and dominating. The horns are urgent and infectious. It has a strong bass line throughout the track. The singing on this song is pretty good. There is a blend of a high-pitched vocal as well as a baritone vocal. The different vocals complemented each other very well in the song.
# 6 – Sweet Sticky Thing
This bitter song is also from the hit album Honey. This ballad has an r&b and funk sound. This angry song is about a woman who cheats instead of being faithful. This song sends a cautionary warning about women who run around and don’t care about the consequences of their actions. This song is relatable to people in this situation. The song has different musical and vocal changes. You can hear the sexy saxophone and horns playing throughout the track. The massive drumbeats are on point. The guitar and bass blend well. The song features a double with the singers. One part is singing in a lower register while the other is singing in a higher register. The singers also harmonize well when they sing the hook. The melody of the song will stay in your head after you hear it.
# 5 – Who’d She Coo?
The next song on our Top 10 Ohio Players Songs list is “Who’d She Coo?” from the Contradiction album. The song has an r&b and funk sound. This mellow funk track is a mystery. Here is some trivia about the song. The band didn’t think the song made sense to them. They weren’t sure what the title meant. They just knew they had a great song. There’s no way to know what the song is about even if you read the lyrics, but it is funky feel good music. The horn and drum arrangements are fabulous. The thumping guitar works well in the music. The music is so great that it doesn’t matter if the song has a strange title as well as meaning. The song features different vocalists singing the song. One is singing in falsetto while the other is singing in a baritone voice.
# 4 – Pain
This heartbreak song is from the album of the same name. This song has a soul and funk sound. This song is about being in pain over losing someone. It’s basically self-explanatory. The music features a magnificent flute solo. It also contains a kicking drumbeat. The guitar solo is insane. It’s on a different level. The singing is also on point. One of the vocalists hits a show stopping high note. It sounds reminiscent of a high note Prince used to hold. The singer also sounds wonderful with the funky music. This is one of their first singles and is the song that made them a household name. This song was the perfect way to introduce the world to the funky band.
# 3 – Ecstasy
This sexy song is from the album of the same name. It has a funk sound. The passionate song is about making love. The song is mostly instrumental. It features some lyrics, but it is mostly focused on the music. The music is a pleasant stand out. It has a thundering guitar riff. It features a whining organ that gives it a gospel mix. The horn section is out of this world. The song sounds like a jam session mixed with some vocals. Junie’s singing is soulful and smooth. He also holds notes in the song. He makes the most of the time he is singing. He doesn’t waste any time hooking you into the song. He gets right to the point. The song needed more lyrics because Junie did a great job vocally, but it’s still a good song.
# 2 – Love Rollercoaster
The metaphoric song is another song from the fantastic Honey album. This upbeat song has a funk sound. The unique song is about the ups and downs of a relationship. They used the perfect name to describe a relationship because a lot of relationships go up and down. Here is some trivia about the song. There were rumors that the woman screaming in the background was the sound of a woman murdered. The rumors were false. The music is tight. The trumpets can send chills up and down your spine like the rollercoaster. The drums are banging and catchy. The guitar has a funk riff that goes up and down throughout the song. Sugarfoot is singing the lead on this track. He has a unique sound that blends well with the music. The people singing in the background are harmonizing well with each other.
# 1 – Fire
We have come to the number one song on our Top 10 Ohio Players Songs list. The number one song is the outstanding “Fire” from the album of the same name. The song has a funk sound. This blistering song is about being attracted to a hot woman. Here is some trivia about the song. The band let Stevie Wonder hear the track. Wonder thought the song would be a hit. He was right because this is one of the band’s signature songs. The song was also used as the theme song for “Hell’s Kitchen.” It has an interesting and original rhythm arrangement. The arrangement is explosive and hypnotizing. It has tight horn arrangements. It has an incredible percussion driven breakdown. The guitar solo gives the song a rock edge. There is also a fire truck siren playing throughout the song that gives the song an original touch. It’s an odd choice to add the siren to the song, but they manage to make it work. The vocals are on point. There is a double throughout the track. One is singing in a deeper tone and one is singing in falsetto. They hold impressive little notes throughout the song.