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Passings: Leroy "Sugarfoot" Bonner of the Ohio Players (1942 - 2013)

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, OH

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.
Bonner 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).

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.


Anonymous said…
My heart is HEAVY!!! Sugar WAS The Ohio Players. My favorite band of ALL TIME. I still listen to his music often. Was just listening to Heaven must be like this last night...RIP Sugar you were loved, admired and adored!!!
Anonymous said…
I have to wholeheartedly agree with you. Sugar-foot was the image, essence, and sound of the group to me. The other group members were very talented as well...but SF was the man! He'll be missed, but the real R&B and funk of the Ohio Players lives on in the music!
Fonda Clark,Charlotte,NC said…
RIP Sugarfoot!! Even though I didnt know him personally,its like I lost my Uncle Bobby all over again!!! They say everyone has a twin,well Sugar and my uncle were twins!! i downloaded a pic of Sugarfoot and asked my brother who was that on the pic and he said"Uncle Bobby"!! Heart is Heeeaavy!! I have 5 songs in my playlist on my phone right noow!! Fire,Love rollercoaster,Skintight,Funkyworm,and Take the funk off!! Got to find Heaven must be like this,Goodluck Charm,and I want to be free...Sending prayers up for the Family and friends of Leroy"Sugarfoot"Bonner!! You are truly"FREE"now.but your music will live on FOREVER!!R.I.P....
Unknown said…
Put that suitcase down you ain't leaving town /Sugarfoot lives on in his music
Anonymous said…
Viva La The Ohio Players!
Anonymous said…
I just heard the news of Sugarfoot's passing on the TJMS. I'm grateful that he shared his talents w/the world -w/his special style of vocals and that OHIO funk that forces you on the dance floor. Sugarfoot's Ohio Players performed in Columbus Ohio in Sep 12 and I must say it was the BEST concert I have have ever seen! The horns..drums...guitar ... And of course Sugarfoot's Voice -a combination that could not be touched by ANY group past or current! He will be missed!
Anonymous said… more sweet ,sweet sticky thing...R.I.P. SUGARFOOT.
Anonymous said…
I'm just hearing of the passing of Sugarfoot. Wow , such devistating news. I enjoyed all of the beautiful songs. "I Wanna Be Free", "Heaven Must Be Like This", and many more. I remember attending a concert years ago at the Fox Theater in da A. The Ohio Players raised the roof. That was a nice concert. Beautiful songs, beautiful lyrics, beautiful melody, that puts you in a beautiful mood. Heaven must be like this. R.I.P. Sugarfoot.