Our Top 10 Wild Cherry Songs presents the best Wild Cherry Songs like “Play That Funky Music,” “Hot to Trot” “I Love My Music” and many more. Two years after Mingo Junction High School graduate Rob Parissi took it upon himself to put Wild Cherry together as a band the year was 1970 and the original lineup featured Larry Brown, Ben Difabbio, Larry Mader, Louie Osso, and Ron Vallera. Each of them, like Parissi, hailed from the state of Ohio and often played in venues located in the Ohio Valley region, as well as Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia’s northern panhandle. The story behind the band’s name revolved around the name of a flavor of a popular cough drop product. During the first half of the 1970s, Wild Cherry released recorded material as an independent label. In the first year, Wild Cherry performed purely as a rock group.
Breakups and Reformations
In 1975, the original lineup of Wild Cherry broke up as a band and Rob Parissi briefly took a break before reforming the band with a brand new lineup. Now with Mark Avsec, Bryan Bassett, Ronald Beitle, and Allen Wentz, this new talent roster ventured into the dance and disco scene in response to popular demand by the listening audience. Also demanded by the audience, specifically by one particular listener, was the desire for funk music. In response, Wild Cherry took it upon themselves to cater to what the fans were crying for. “Play That Funky Music,” plus the lyrics Wild Cherry used to perform the song, owes its very inspiration to the fan who asked the white men when were they going to play some funky music. This song, as well as the group’s self-titled debut album, became certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.
Since then, Wild Cherry recorded and released three additional studio albums. In 1977, Electrified Funk served as a continuation of Wild Cherry’s newly adopted musical style. Unfortunately, it seemed as if the novelty began to wear off as neither the album nor its singles earned the same level of fan appeal. This was the same fate in 1978 with I Love My Music, as well as the group’s final studio recording with 1979’s Only the Wild Survive. After this, Wild Cherry broke up as a group the second time.
Wild Cherry Legacy
Aside from four studio albums, Wild Cherry also has two compilation albums to its credit. In 1979, Rod Parissi moved to Miami, Florida, before relocating to New York City in 1980. He continued as a recording artist, working with artists such as Bobby Caldwell and Billy Squier. Rod Parissi was born and raised in Mingo Junction, Ohio, a community that named its longest street after him on August 11, 2013. As for Mark Avsec, he became a copyright lawyer after experiencing a legal battle over the Donnie Iris and the Cruisers’ 1980 hit single, “Ah! Leah!”
Top 10 Wild Cherry Songs
#10 – Hold Your Hiney
From the album, Only the Wild Survive, “Hold Your Hiney” was a great dance number that clearly featured the signature vocals of Wild Cherry. Traces of “Play That Funky Music” can be found here but in a manner that makes it work for this playful love song. If you want a song that gives you good reason to get off your hiney and jazz it out on the dance floor, “Hold Your Hiney” is it.
#9 – 1-2-3 Kind of Love
Starting off with a soft piano solo, “1-2-3 Kind of Love” grooved into a great love song performed by Wild Cherry as a single in 1978. From the album, I Love My Music, “1-2-3 Kind of Love” came across as a great contrast from the heavy-hitting dance floor numbers that made this group so popular when the disco music scene was at its peak. This song is a real treat for listeners that may not have heard of this softer side of Wild Cherry.
#8 – I Feel Sanctified
“I Feel Sanctified” was originally intended to be released as a single on the A-side of the same record that featured “Play That Funky Music” but it was suggested by the record label to make the switch. From Wild Cherry’s perspective, it is understandable why they felt this single was worth something. Granted, it did not become a hit on any official music charts but it definitely makes the grade as far as a funky dance number goes. Heavy-hitting and jazzy, “I Feel Sanctified” served as one of those ideal songs to play at a sporting event that needs to jazz up the spectators.
#7 – Get Down
1973’s “Get Down” was a single Wild Cherry released via United Artists as this band stayed on track as a rock group before venturing into the grand world of funk. This hard and edgy number featured heavy guitar riffs and a vocal team that definitely had the right stuff to produce rock classics but simply didn’t have a major record label at the time to give “Get Down” the proper amount of attention it deserved.
#6 – Nowhere to Run
Originally recorded by Martha and The Vandellas in 1965 as a pop single, “Nowhere to Run” was a funky number featuring the instrumental performance of the infamous Funk Brothers. In 1976, Wild Cherry covered this song of relationship entrapment from a man’s point of view but in a manner that made it a dance floor favorite.
#5 – I Love My Music
In 1979, “I Love My Music” was a modest hit for Wild Cherry as it peaked at number forty-nine on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and at number sixty-nine on the US Billboard Hot 100. It served as the title track from the group’s third studio album. Full of funk, as intended, “I Love My Music” was a dance club favorite when it was first released and is still a popular choice among venues that cater to the retro disco scene.
#4 – Hot to Trot
“Hot to Trot” was a number ninety-five hit on the US Billboard Hot 100 in 1977, released as a single from Wild Cherry’s second studio album, Electrified Funk. On the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, it became a number sixty-two hit. In New Zealand, “Hot to Trot” faired much better at number seventeen as its audience found this funky song something of a cult favorite. “Hot to Trot” was fun and catchy as an easy-listening number that made it easy for fans to simply get up and dance the night away.
#3 – What in the Funk Do You See
“What in the Funk Do You See” was the final track featured on Wild Cherry’s self-titled debut album. As a great song to jump out on the dance floor and get funky, there is no denying this is an easily identifiable tune belonging to a band that made the most out of reinventing themselves as a means to give the fans what they want.
#2 – Baby Don’t You Know
On the US Billboard Hot 100, “Baby Don’t You Know” became a minor hit in 1977, charting as high as number forty-three and was a number forty-one hit on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. The attempt to copy the sound and success of “Play That Funky Music” wasn’t quite as impressionable as a hit but it was still funky enough to become a fan favorite classic.
#1 – Play That Funky Music
“Play That Funky Music” served as a song of response after a member of Wild Cherry’s audience asked when were these white boys going to play some funky music. Originally, it was meant to be recorded on the B-side of a record they intended to release in 1976 but the record label they were signed with at the time suggested otherwise. This turned out to be the band’s biggest hit, as well as their signature song. On the US Billboard Hot 100, “Play That Funky Music” became a number one hit, as well as on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.
It also became certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America, as well as Top R&B Single of the Year by the American Music Awards. This single was enough to earn Wild Cherry recognition as Best Pop Group of the Year by Billboard Magazine, as well as two Grammy Award nominations, namely for Best New Vocal Group and Best R&B Performance by a Group or Duo. Globally, it was at least a top ten hit among the nations of Australia, Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and the UK. In Canada and the UK, “Play That Funky Music” became certified gold.
Top 10 Wild Cherry Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022
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Very good list – most of W.C’s best – but one glaring omission IMO (which to me, would be #2) is the title track from the LP “Electrified Funk”.
Always was a great party starter back in the late 70s. Brusque vocals, great beat, and fine guitar work by Parissi on that Funk-rocker.