Lead singer for popular funk band Ohio Players
Leroy “Sugarfoot” Bonner, frontman for the hit-making funk band the Ohio Players, died Jan. 26 near Dayton, Ohio. He was 69.
A spokeswoman for the Newcomer Funeral Home in the Dayton suburb of Kettering confirmed the death. There was also a posting about his death on his current band’s Facebook page. No other information was immediately released about his death.
The Ohio Players, known for their brassy dance music, catchy lyrics and flamboyant outfits, topped music charts in the 1970s with such hits as “Love Rollercoaster,” “Fire,” “Skin Tight” and “Funky Worm.”
Mr. Bonner was born in Hamilton, Ohio, north of Cincinnati, and said he learned about music by sneaking into bars as an adolescent to play harmonica and guitar with adult musicians.
He said he ran away from his home at 14 and told the Hamilton Journal News in 2009 that he had gone back there only once. He explained he had bad memories of growing up poor.
He wound up in Dayton, where he joined in the 1960s with core members of a group called the Ohio Untouchables to form the Ohio Players.
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,” Mr. Bonner told the Dayton Daily News in 2003. He said he initially played with his back to the audience because he didn’t want to get distracted.
The band had a string of top 40 hits in the mid-1970s and continued to perform for years after that. Mr. Bonner had remained active in recent years with a spinoff band called Sugarfoot’s Ohio Players.
Marshall Jones, the bass player and a founding member of the Ohio Players, said he, Mr. 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.
Leroy “Sugarfoot” Bonner performed at an Atlanta music festival in 2002. The Ohio Players had a string of top 40 hits in the mid-1970s.