Leroy "Sugarfoot" Bonner, frontman for the Ohio Players, has passed away at the age of 70. Reports say that he had been suffering from cancer and died on Saturday.
The official announcement from his family was posted on Facebook:
January 26, 2013 – Dayton, OHBonner joined the Ohio Players, originally called the Ohio Untouchables, in 1963. They played around their hometown of Dayton until they became the house band for Compass Records in 1967. In 1968, they charted for the first time nationally with Tresspassin' (R&B #50).
Official Family Announcement of the Passing of Leroy Sugarfoot Bonner
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.
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. He will be missed but not forgotten as his legacy and music lives on. More details and an official historical perspective of his career will soon be forthcoming.
After a year hiatus from 1970 to 1971, a newly reformed version of the group signed with the Westbound label out of Detroit where they had a minor hit with Pain (Part 1) (1971/#35 R&B/#64 Pop). Two years later, they hit the big time with Funky Worm which went to the top of the R&B chart and hit number 15 in Pop.
In 1974, the band signed with Mercury Records where they scored twelve more top 40 R&B hits, two of which topped the Hot 100. (Fire (1974) and Love Rollercoaster (1975)).
Even though their last big hit was in 1977 (O-H-I-O (#9 R&B/#45 Pop), the band has continued to tour under many different lineups up until today. Except for a short period in the mid-80's, Bonner was the one thread that tied them all together.