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Ohio Players

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Dayton OH, United States (1959 – present)

The Ohio Players are a funk and R&B band whose heyday was in the mid- to late 1970s. They formed in Dayton, Ohio in 1959 as the Ohio Untouchables, and initially included members Robert Ward (vocals/guitar), Marshall “Rock” Jones (bass), Clarence “Satch” Satchell (saxophone/guitar), Cornelius Johnson (drums), and Ralph “Pee Wee” Middlebrooks (trumpet/trombone). The Ohio Untouchables broke up in 1963, with Ward leaving for a solo career, but the core members of the group returned to Dayton and added Gary Webster (drums) and Leroy “Sugarfoot” Bonner (guitar) in 1964. The group added two more singers, Bobby Lee Fears and Dutch Robinson, and became the house band for New York City-based Compass Records in 1967. They soon became one of the better known R&B bands of the 1970’s. They inspired many artists including The Mighty Majors (“You Can Never Go Back”), which opened a show for them once on the road.

Their song “Runnin’ from the Devil” inspired the Van Halen song “Runnin’ With the Devil”.

The group disbanded again in 1970. After again reforming with a line-up including Bonner, Satchell, Middlebrooks, Jones, Webster, trumpeter Bruce Napier, trombonist Marvin Pierce, and keyboardist Walter “Junie” Morrison, the Players had a minor hit on the Detroit-based Westbound label in 1971 with “Pain” which reached the Billboard R&B Top 40. Detroit vocalist Dale Allen shared co-lead vocals on some of the early Westbound material, although not credited on the albums “Pain” and “Pleasure”.

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