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Passings: Doug Grassel of the Ohio Express

Source: YouTube
Doug Grassel, the rhythm guitarist for the group the Ohio Express, died on September 21 from fibrosis of the lungs. He was 64.

Grassel's professional career got started as a fluke.  He was playing in a Mansfield, Ohio group called Sir Timothy and the Royals when Super K Productions asked them to perform in place of the original musicians in The Ohio Express.

A group of New York area musicians know as the Rare Breed recorded with Super K Productions and hit nationally under the name the Ohio Express with Beg, Borrow & Steel (1967 / #29). By the time the song made its way up the charts, the original group had left Super K after a dispute and they brought in the new group of musicians, including Grassel, to replace them.

After a short stint at Cameo-Parkway records, who went bankrupt before the new group's first album could be released, the band signed with Buddah Records, where the story of Grassel and the band took an even stranger turn.  Singer/songwriter Joey Levine recorded a demo version of his song Yummy, Yummy, Yummy which was meant to be a guide for the Ohio Express version.  The record company liked the version so much that they skipped the rerecording and released the Levine version under the Ohio Express name.

Meanwhile, the regular version of the Ohio Express had their picture taken for album covers and publicity and went out on tour, but they didn't play one note on the major hits that were attributed to their name over the next two years including Down at Lulu's (1968 / #33), Chewy Chewy (1968 / #15) and Mercy (1969 / #30).

Even after Levine left Super K Productions in 1969, the touring group was not allowed to record for themselves with the label relying on studio musicians. The Ohio Express' last top 100 hit, 1969's Sausalito (Is the Place to Go), was actually Graham Gouldman and the rest of what would become 10CC. By 1970, the group was disbanded.

Grassel continued to chase the music muse and spent the last ten years of his life performing, including many of the old Ohio Express tracks.  He had been hospitalized for the last four months.

Grassel is survived by his three children.