Monday, May 30, 2016

Passings: Marshall "Rock" Jones, Last Member of the Original Ohio Players (1941 - 2016)

by VVN Music

Marshall "Rock" Jones, the bass player for the Ohio Untouchables who became the Ohio Players, died on Friday in Houston after battling cancer. He was 75.

Jones' daughters Donna Williams and Charlotte Phillips released a statement, saying "We appreciate all of the support and prayers. We lost not only a father, a grandfather and an uncle, we lost an icon to the community and an icon to his family."

The Ohio Untouchables were formed in 1959 by Robert Ward, Clarence "Satch" Satchell, Cornelius Johnson, Ralph "Pee Wee" Middlebrooks and Jones. While they never achieved success on their own, they did make a living in music as the backup group for The Falcons.

A fistfight between Jones and Ward in 1964 led to the breakup of the band but the original members, without Ward or Johnson, reformed in short order with Leroy "Sugarfoot" Bonner on lead and Gregory Webster on drums. Renaming themselves The Ohio Players, they became the house band at Compass Records in New York. This lineup released one album, 1969's Observations in Time, on Capitol Records. They also had one minor R&B hit, Trespassin' (1968 / #50 R&B).

The Ohio Players broke up in 1970 but reformed again with a slightly altered lineup to record three albums for Westbound Records under the guidance of George Clinton, Pain (1972 / #177 Pop / #21 R&B), Pleasure (1972 / #63 Pop / #4 R&B) and Ecstacy (1973 / #70 Pop / #19 R&B). The Pleasure album included the band's first number 1 R&B hit, Funky Work (1973 / #15 Pop / #1 R&B).

In 1974, the Ohio Players moved to Mercury Records where they would have their greatest success with singles like Skin Tight (1973 / #13 Pop / #2 R&B), Fire (1974 / #1 Pop / #1 R&B), Sweet Sticky Thing (1975 / #33 Pop / #1 R&B), Love Rollercoaster (1975 / #1 Pop / #1 R&B) and Who'd She Coo? (1976 / #18 Pop / #1 R&B).

The Ohio Players' flame burned bright but only for a few years and, by 1978, the hits began drying up although they managed a final R&B top 40 in 1988 with Let's Play (From Now On) from their final studio album Back (1988 / #55 R&B).

The band brokeup and reformed a number of times over the ensuing years in various configurations, continuing to play live and tour.

Jones was the last surviving member of the original lineup of the Ohio Untouchables.

Later band member James "Diamond" Williams said "He was inventive, and he was creative. He was a great musician. Marshall Jones contributed greatly, and we will miss him."