When I was first informed about the passing of Sugarfoot, lead singer and guitarist of the Funk band, The Ohio Players, I was so crushed. A lot of times, when certain artists, musicians and performers die, it ultimately feels like a friend or family member has passed. Because whether you knew the artist personally or not (which most times you don’t), its as if you have known them all along through their music and art.
That’s how I feel about Sugarfoot and the music he made with The Ohio Players. Being a native of Cincinnati and a child of parents whom were teenagers/young adults in the 70’s, their music kind of raised me in a way. And with the cultural climate of that era for African Americans, there was a certain amount of joy, love and pride that carried out through their music, where people who grew up during that period go into a nostalgic trance whenever their music comes on. This is what happens to my father any and everytime their song “Heaven Must Be Like This” comes on. Like clockwork, my dad begins to scat to the song, sing the lyrics in a very awkward, yet passionate manner and usually has some sort of interesting story to tell about the song and how it relates to how music and things were “back in thedays”.
The Ohio Players were definitely a BAD band, but Sugarfoot was the stand out. Until this day, I have never heard any singer be able to duplicate the raspy and melodic tone that was his signature. Now, you have had people try to imitate it, but we can only leave that to flattery. And how funny is it that he did not want to be the lead singer of the band, and was not very confident in his voice until his group members encouraged him to take the lead. Now, that’s a lesson in itself.
And when I got the news today, I immediately thought about what the piano/organ player of the band, Billy Beck, said in their TV One Unsung episode. He explained how throughout the years the group eventually split up, but how he hoped that one day all of the original members that are still alive could get back together one more time, before anymore of them passes away, which would have been so monumental (Sugarfoot was proceeded in death by band leader and saxophone player, Clarence “Satch” Satchell and trombone/trumpet player, Ralph “Pee Wee” Middlebrooks). But I am just truly happy that throughout their time on this Earth, they all crossed paths to even create music that has touched and changed lives all over the world, all the while, putting the state of Ohio on the map for the world to recognize as a birthplace of Funk.
We love you, Sugarfoot. And we thank you. From Funk to Hip Hop, your voice and music has been heard and remembered. And we will never forget you. ♪
To my OP fans out there, which songs were your favorites? And what memories come to mind when you think about their music? Share your comments and thoughts below…