Leroy Bonner


CINCINNATI (AP) - Leroy "Sugarfoot" Bonner, frontman for the hit-making funk music band the Ohio Players, has died in southwest Ohio. 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 calle d 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 singles and huge crowds in venues such as the Superdome in New Orleans, was stunning.

"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 s tarburst. 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 inte rview. 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."

DAN SEWELL, Associated Press


Contact the reporter at http://www.twitter.com/dansewell

Copyright © 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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I had the pleasure of being a road guest with him in the late 80's after a club date in Hartford CT we went to the hotel they were staying at talked for hours then sugarfoot invited me and some family members to Providence RI for a show and dinner so much fun he will truly be missed by me RIP.

Sugarfoot you are dearly missed and loved I am listening to the band today on air. The greatness of the front lead man is oh so missed still in 2018 .I am so blessed to have met you and still have the autographed t-shirt that you teased me about.

The most recognized voice in the history of the 70s ! This Blond lady will never forget the dance with you in Campbell Ca . Thank you for jumping off the stage while playing your guitar singing skintight! To me! Forever in my memories rip sweet guy! Diane C

I always wanted to meet this Man. I have been playing guitar professionally for 35 years. Everything I know about Guitar, I learned by listening to this Man. Mr. Bonner was my musical mentor. I owe him everything. I am a professional musician living & playing in the Washington D.C. area. When Mr. Bonner passed away, a apiece of me went away with him. May God Welcome Him As A Friend.

Never will be forgotten. Had the pleasure of Meeting Leroy in San Antonio after a concert, very nice man. May his soul rest in peace.

Janice Terry (Texas/Oklahoma)

These Ohio Players served as a role model of sorts for a young impressionable kid, The first time I saw them I said "these dudes are bad!" and I wished to be just like them. Sounds naive now but they helped me grow up, I miss he type of music they made.

Sitting on my couch listening to Angel
Although im saved now I always love this song
Sugarfoot you sang and played your heart out
On this jam R.I.p.