Ohio Players Frontman ‘Sugarfoot’ Bonner Remembered as ‘Humble Yet Charismatic’
CINCINNATI (AP) — Leroy “Sugarfoot” Bonner, frontman for the hit-making funk music band the Ohio Players, has died. He was 69.
The Ohio Players, known for their brassy dance music, catchy lyrics and flamboyant outfits, topped music charts in the 1970s with hits such as “Love Rollercoaster,” ”Fire,” ”Skin Tight” and “Funky Worm.”
A spokeswoman for a Newcomer Funeral Home in the Dayton suburb of Kettering said Monday morning that the family hadn’t scheduled any public services. There was also a posting about his death on his current band’s Facebook page. No other information was released immediately about his death Saturday.
Born in Hamilton, Ohio, Bonner teamed up in the 1960s with core members of a group called the Ohio Untouchables to form the Ohio Players. The band had a string of Top 40 hits in the mid-1970s and continued to perform for years after that. He had remained active in recent years with a spinoff band called Sugarfoot’s Ohio Players.
“Humble yet charismatic, soft-spoken and of few words, the weight of his thoughts, lyrics and music has influenced countless other artists, songs and trends,” stated a posting attributed as an “official family announcement” on the Facebook page of Sugarfoot’s Ohio Players. “He will be missed but not forgotten as his legacy and music lives on.”
Marshall Jones, the bass player and a founding member of the Ohio Players, called his bandmates “a bunch of the most creative people — especially Sugarfoot — that I have ever been around.”
“It’s kind of crazy,” Jones, 72, told The Associated Press of Bonner’s death. “I’m still feeling fragile.”
Jones said after years of playing music, the band’s sudden stardom, with No. 1
“I sit back now, and it was all a brilliant blaze,” he said. “I think ‘Damn, did I do that?’ It was just ‘Zoom!’ That was a starburst. And like all things like that, it fizzles.”
Jones said he, Bonner and other band members were delighted and flattered when “Love Rollercoaster” gained new fans through a 1990s cover by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Bonner had said he learned about music in Hamilton, where he was the oldest of a large family, playing harmonica, learning guitar and sneaking into bars as an adolescent to play with adult musicians. He said he ran away from his home some 20 miles north of Cincinnati at age 14, and told the Hamilton JournalNews in 2009 that he had only gone back there once. He explained he had bad memories of growing up poor.
He wound up in Dayton, where he connected with the players who would form the band. Their lineup changed at times, but featured horns, bass, guitar, drums and keyboards.
“We were players. We weren’t trying to be lead singers, but we became one of the first crossover singing bands,” Bonner told the Dayton Daily News in a 2003 interview. He said he initially played with his back to the audience, because he didn’t want to get distracted.
While the band used sexual innuendo, Bonner said he didn’t relate to some of the explicit lyrics and attitudes of later pop music and rap.
“There is nothing but the old school and the new fools,” he said. “It’s a shame the way these artists are preaching badness to a drum beat.”
(Photo Courtesy of the AP)
(Story Courtesy of BlackAmericaWeb)
The Ohio Players (w/ Bro. Sugarfoot on the lead) singing "It's All Over" From The Album "Fire" (1974)
The Ohio Player singing "Fire" on The Midnight Special in 1975
The Ohio Players singing "Love Rollercoaster" on The Midnight Special in 1975
"At this time, The Black Fist Organization extends its most heartfelt condolences to the family, friends, and fans of Bro. Leroy "Sugarfoot" Bonner. He will be sorely missed!"
A Few Words From our Adminstrator: I am so happy that a dear sistafriend and myself got a chance to drive down to The 2012 Louisville Soul Food Festival this past summer where dear Bro. Sugarfoot and his Ohio Players were headlining, it was a great show and Bro. Sugarfoot was in rare form with his gold tipped walking cane, snow white suit, snow white kicks, pimp brim cocked to the side and his matching white wave cap underneath! LOL! He was sharp as a tack and cleaner than the board of health as the old school players say it!!
I still have the video. Wow!
Brothers and Sisters, what are your remembrances of The Ohio Players and Bro. Leroy "Sugarfoot" Bonner? Feel free to post them here, share your thoughts and your favorite songs.
By The Way: NOBODY and I mean, NOBODY could top those Ohio Player album covers! I still have quite a few of them myself and they are the epitome of "Black Provocative Love and Sensuality"! ...
Enjoy the Videos. I did!