Leroy “Sugarfoot” Bonner, leader of the legendary Funk band The Ohio Players, passed away over the weekend. A posting on Bonner's Facebook fan page brought forth the unfortunate news on Sunday.
From Sugarfoot's Facebook page:
Yesterday, Leroy “Sugarfoot” Bonner passed away quietly in his hometown of Trotwood-Dayton, OH. While his family, friends, colleagues, and fans mourn his passing they celebrate fondly his memory, music, and legacy.
Sugarfoot, or Foot, or Sugar, was the founding and cornerstone artistic talent of OHIO PLAYERS and the face and sound of the OHIO PLAYERS brand, which he knit together and launched in 1964 with former members of The Ohio Untouchables. With a career spanning 56 years, he passed barely short of his 70th birthday.
Bonner, a native of Hamilton, would join The Ohio Players in the late 1960's after working with another band in the town of Dayton, and the group made a splash on the music charts in the 70s with hits like “Love Rollercoaster,” “Skin Tight,” “Fire” and other tracks. Marshall “Rock” Jones, bass player and founding Ohio Players member, is reeling from the loss. “It's kind of crazy. I'm still feeling fragile,” said Jones to the Associated Press. “I sit back now, and it was all a brilliant blaze.”
Keith Harrison of Ohio bands FAZE-O and The Dazz Band praised Bonner in an interview with the Dayton Daily News. “He was a great person with a lot of wisdom not just in music, but in life,” said Harrison. “He was an extraordinary person.”
Hip-Hop groups owe a great debt to The Ohio Players, as their music helped form the instrumentals for a bevy of classics. A Tribe Called Quest used the Ohio Players track “Ecstasy” for the “Scenario (Remix)” and DJ Clark Kent used another portion when The Notorious B.I.G. joined Jay-Z for their back-and-forth duo “Brooklyn's Finest” on Hov's debut album Reasonable Doubt. Kendrick Lamar (“m.A.A.d City”), Outkast (“Crumblin' Erb”) and De La Soul (“Me Myself and I”) are among many others who have used samples from the Ohio Players vaults.
Rest in peace to Leroy “Sugarfoot” Bonner.