We have lost an underrated musical genius, the voice of a generation, the creator of a new singing style, and an influence to countless other musicians (perhaps most notably Prince)…. Mr. Leroy Bonner, better known as Sugarfoot or just Sugar.
He started in the music business in the 1950’s and experienced just about every facet of the business in his 6+ decades. Ups downs and all arounds, Sugar always stayed true to himself and true to the music.
Mr. Bonner was the author of so many funk classics – writing or co-writing most of the Player’s material, singing lead on most of the major hits, and playing a smoking hot guitar. His fingerpicking and scat soloing was like noone-else.
He brought his double-neck to funk, his trademark Aww girl, put that suitcase down, You ain’t kiddin’ nobody, You can’t leave me, woman, you love me! vocal style has become the funk voice. This was just one of his many creations.
Video of the Ohio Players is very rare and not much is online. Here’s a cool interview and lip-sync on Soul Train from when they were blowing up in 1975 (cracked audio):
Here’s one of my favorite Sugar performances, “Heaven Must Be Like This”:
Rest In Peace Mr. Bonner, you will be missed. You and your music will be remembered forever.