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Dayton tribute for Ohio Players frontman back on

The Dayton tribute to recognize the musical legacy of Ohio Players frontman Leroy “Sugarfoot” Bonner that was canceled last week is now back on.

The event, called “Funk In My Backyard,” will be held 5 p.m. March 14 at Gilly’s, 132 S. Jefferson St., according to Bonner’s friend Donald “Duck” Blanton. Cost of admission will be announced later.

The event also will recognize other local musicians including Norman Beavers and Marvin Craig of the Dayton-based group Lakeside and Floyd Weatherspoon from another Dayton-based group called Touch. Special guests include Scot Brown, associate professor in UCLA’s Department of History.

“Selected bands will be playing selected music as a tribute to those funk (music) legends we have lost from Dayton,” Blanton said.

Bonner, a Hamilton native, died last month of cancer. He would have turned 70 on March 14.

The Ohio Players rose to international fame in the 1970s with their hits, “Skin Tight,” “Love Rollercoaster” and “Fire.”

“We started off with Jazz and fused it with Rock and Roll,” said Greg Webster Sr., one of the original members of the Ohio Players.

Bonner was a part of the Dayton-based funk group when it was formed in 1964, according to Webster, 75 of Trotwood. The Hamilton native added that he is the one that convinced Bonner to join him, Clarence “Satch” Satchell, Marshall “Rock” Jones and Ralph “Pee Wee” Middlebrooks and become the group that ended up being the Ohio Players.

“After we started playing about a month or so, that’s when we named ourselves The Players,” said Webster, the drummer who played with the group when they were signed to Westbound Records and put out hits like, “Pain,” “Funky Worm,” and “Ecstasy. “Then we found out there was a group in Chicago that had a record out and a name called The Players. We decided to call ourselves the Ohio Players.”

Webster described Bonner as a unique and self-taught guitarist whom he said he helped find chords on his guitar. “He would sometimes make a chord to where his fingers looked like a spider on the neck of his guitar. He didn’t know what the chord was, but it sounded good to him,” Webster said.

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