Leroy “Sugarfoot” Bonner, front man for 70s funk band The Ohio Players, is dead at the age of 69.
Bonner, who is the funky voice behind The Ohio Players hit single “Love Rollercoaster,” passed away Saturday in southwest Ohio following a battle with cancer.
"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," Bonner’s current band, Sugarfoot’s Ohio Players, posted on its Facebook page. "He will be missed but not forgotten as his legacy and music lives on."
After growing up in Hamilton, Ohio, where he learned to play harmonica and guitar, Bonner ran away from home to Cincinnati at age 14 and formed the band, first known as the Ohio Untouchables, in Dayton, in the '60s.
While the band stayed together for just three years, the core members, including Marshall "Rock" Jones, Clarence "Satch" Satchell, Ralph "Pee Wee" Middlebrooks and Bonner, reunited in 1971 with additional members to form The Ohio Players.
The music of the band is said to have influenced many of the young and successful artists in the 90s, including the Red Hot Chili Peppers who recorded and released their own version of "Love Rollercoaster." The Ohio Players’ 1973 hit "Funky Worm" was also famously sampled on N.W.A.'s classic "Straight Outta Compton" album in 1988.
The band had seven Top 40 hits between 1973 and 1976. These included "Fire" (#1 on both the R&B and pop chart for two weeks and one week respectively in February 1975 and another million seller) and "Love Rollercoaster" (#1 on both the R&B and pop charts for one week in January 1976; another gold disc recipient). The group's last big hit was "Who'd She Coo?" a #1 R&B hit in August 1976. It was their only success in the United Kingdom, where it peaked at #43 in the UK Singles Chart in July 1976.