DOB Unknown – January 26, 2013
Leroy “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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