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Archive for the ‘Disco’ Category

Died On This Date (January 26, 2013) Leroy “Sugarfoot” Bonner / Lead Singer For The Ohio Players

Posted by themusicsover on January 26, 2013

Leroy Bonner
DOB Unknown – January 26, 2013

leroy-sugarfoot-bonnerLeroy “Sugarfoot” Bonner was the longtime lead singer for arguably America’s  greatest funk band, the Ohio Players.  Formed in Dayton, Ohio as the Ohio Untouchables in 1959, it would be a few years before they regrouped as the Ohio Players and brought Bonner on board.   First the band’s lead guitarist, Bonner’s charisma on stage could not be denied, so he soon took over as front man as well.  It wasn’t until 1973 that the band hit its stride with the release of their first #1 R&B single, “Funky Worm.”  The record ultimately sold over 1 million copies and helped the group land a deal with Mercury Records.  Over the next three years, the Ohio Players scored seven Top 40 singles, two Gold Albums and three Platinum.  In all, they sold well over 4 million albums.  Their hits included such era definers as “Fire,” “Who’d She Coo?” “Skin Tight” and “Love Rollercoaster,” which claimed one of pop music’s greatest urban legends as well.  Mid way through the #1 hit, a high-pitched scream can be heard, leading many to believe that a woman was murdered in the studio with her scream unknowingly recorded.  Of several myths that were spawned, the most absurd was that while the band was recording, the cover photo shoot of Playboy model, Ester Corbet, was taking place in an adjacent room.  Badly burned and disfigured by the hot honey which was poured on her, Corbet ran into the studio threatening to sue the band. The myth goes on to claim that the band’s manager stabbed her to death in the control room in order to shut her up.  All caught on tape, of course.  The problem with that scenario is that Corbet is still alive and apparently burn free as of this writing.  The reality is that keyboardist Billy Beck provided the infamous scream.  Meanwhile, the Ohio Players forged on through the ups and downs of their popularity with Bonner at the helm well into the 2000s.  Leroy Bonner was 70 when he passed away on January 26, 2013.  Cause of death was not immediately released.

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Posted in Disco, Funk, Musician, R&B, Singer, Songwriter | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

Died On This Date (September 4, 2012) Lillian Lopez / Lead Singer For Odyssey; Had Big Disco Hit With “Native New Yorker”

Posted by themusicsover on September 9, 2012

Lillian Lopez
November 16, 1935 – September 4, 2012

Lillian Lopez is best remembered as the lead singer for ’70s disco outfit, Odyssey. Formed in New York City in 1977, the group initially included Lillian’s sister, Louise Lopez and friend, Tony Reynolds. Sister, Carmen Lopez performed with her siblings during their pre-Odyssey days.  In December of 1977, the group scored a dance hit with “Native New Yorker,” which shot to #21 on the Billboard charts and #5 on the UK charts.  Odyssey released numerous records over the next few years, but none did as well as “Native New Yorker” until 1982’s “Inside Out,” which reached #13 in the US and #3 in the UK.  Much more popular in Europe, the group had no fewer than ten hits there including “Use It Up And Wear It Out” which topped the UK chart in 1980. Their music continues to be popular in the UK thanks in part to the Northern Soul scene.  Lopez, the only original member of Odyssey, toured with them until her retirement in 2003.  Lillian Lopez was 76 when she died of cancer on September  4, 2012.

Thanks to Craig Rosen at Number 1 Albums for the assist.

What You Should Own

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Died On This Date (May 17, 2012) Donna Summer / Disco Icon

Posted by themusicsover on May 17, 2012

Donna Summer (Born LaDonna Gaines)
December 31, 1948 – May 17, 2012

Donna Summer was a world-renowned American R&B singer who hit her stride during the disco era.  Unlike many of her contemporaries, Summer, with her mezzo-soprano vocal range, needed very little studio trickery for her vocals.  Coming of age in Boston during the early ’60s, Summer spent countless hours listening to records by and imitating the likes of the Supremes and Martha & the Vandellas. By then she had already been singing in church gospel groups.  As the ’60s rolled on, Summer discovered the powerhouse vocals of Janis Joplin, who, along with the early girl groups, influenced her own singing. Upon hearing Joplin sing on her Big Brother and the Holding Company records, she decided that’s what she wanted to do, so she joined her first band as lead singer, the psychedelic rock outfit, Crow.   That brought her to New York City where she focused on Broadway.  Her first role of significance was in the European company of Hair!. In 1975, Summer cut her first record, “Love To Love You Baby,” which although banned by most American radio stations due to its raw sexuality, became an instant smash in Europe.  From there it was a deal with Neil Bogart’s Casablanca Records who began pumping an extended version of the song to underground discos and Summer’s massive gay following was born.  She went on to release several albums that helped define the disco era and became the first artist to have three consecutive #1 albums that were two-record sets.  During the ’80s, Summer broke away from disco by adding a more rock sound to her records, and even though she had tracks on the soundtracks for the blockbuster films, Flashdance and Fast Times at Ridgemont High, the decade was not terribly kind to her.  She continued to make records well into the 2000s – some faring better than others, but for the most part were very well received.  Throughout her career, Summer was recognized with five Grammy awards (17 nominations), three multi-platinum albums, 11 gold albums, an NAACP Image Award, and six American Music Awards.  Her songs have been covered (or sampled) by Sheena Easton, David Guetta, Madonna, Whitney Houston, Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, and many more.  Donna Summer passed away after a long struggle with cancer on May 17, 2012.  She was 63.

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On the Radio - Greatest Hits, Vol. 1 & 2 - Donna Summer

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Died On This Date (March 8, 2012) Jimmy Ellis / Lead Singer Of The Trammps; Had Huge Hit With “Disco Inferno”

Posted by themusicsover on March 8, 2012

Jimmy Ellis
DOB Unkown – March 8, 2012

Jimmy Ellis is best remembered the lead singer for the popular disco group, the Trammps.  Formed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1972, the R&B outfit first flirted with success with their unlikely cover of “Zing! Went The Strings Of My Heart,” a song originally made famous by Judy Garland some 30 years earlier.  The following year, they released “Love Epidemic,” widely considered their first disco song.  In 1976, they put out what would become their signature tune, “Disco Inferno,” a high-energy dance number that went on to help define the disco era.  The song wasn’t initially a big hit, but when it was re-released as part of the Saturday Night Fever film and soundtrack in 1978, it hit the mainstream and landed at #11 on the pop charts.  The song then took on a life of its own as it was played in heavy rotation at discotheques around the world and virtually every disco-themed party ever since.  Its celebratory refrain can still also be heard at most major sports arenas around the US.   It has also been covered by the likes of Cyndi Lauper and Tina Turner.  In 2005, “Disco Inferno” was inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame.  The Trammps’ other hits included “The Night The Lights Went Out” and “Disco Party.”   Jimmy Ellis was 74 when he passed away in a nursing home on March 8, 2012.

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The Trammps

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Died On This Date (February 1, 2012) Don Cornelius / Creator & Host Of “Soul Train”

Posted by themusicsover on February 1, 2012

Don Cornelius
September 27, 1936 – February 1, 2012

Don Cornelius was the creator, writer, producer, and host of the extremely influential American dance program, Soul Train.  Launched in October of 1961 after Cornelius noticed a void of nationally broadcast television shows that catered to the African-American audience, Soul Train ran until March of 2006.  Cornelius hosted the program from its inception until 1993.  Soul Train has been praised for influencing countless African-American kids while bringing black music into the white neighborhoods.  Over the years, the show featured lip-synched performances by everyone from James Brown, Marvin Gaye and Aretha Franklin, to Michael Jackson, Ice Cube and Prince.  Two popular segments of the show were the “Soul Train Scrabble Board” where two dancers tried to un-scramble letters to identify a significant person in African-American culture, and the oft-imitated “Soul Train Line” where the dancers formed two lines and then strutted their stuff with a partner down the middle.  In 1987, Cornelius launched the Soul Train Awards, a nationally broadcast program that honored the year’s best artists in R&B, Soul, Jazz and Hip-Hop.  The show ran until 2000.  Throughout the years, Cornelius was honored and/or parodied in countless sit-coms, rap songs, and films.   In the early hours of February 1, 2012, police responded to the home of Don Cornelius where they found him dead of what initially appeared to have been a self-inflicted gunshot wound.  He was 75.

Thanks to Bruce Kilgour at Slipped Disc Entertainment for the assist.

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