Ohio is known for producing many talented and famous artists/groups but Dayton, Ohio is also what I will call a “birthplace of funk music” in the United States. It bore one of the legendary Funk bands of all time – The Ohio Players. Holding down the beat on drums after Greg Webster and in the group for more than four decades is James “Diamond” Williams. The distinct vocal sound, I recall, of the Ohio Players came from the guitarist and eventual front man whom we know as Leroy “Sugarfoot” Bonner after he joined the group in the 1960’s. His voice, Diamond on drums and the rest of the group made many memorable hits many of us fondly recall. Diamond and I had a candid conversation about the group and he shared a little about himself. I hope you enjoy a snippet of who James “Diamond” Williams is in the following interview.
OM: Talk to me about Sugarfoot’s legacy as it relates to the Ohio Players.
DIAMOND: First of all, we lost two other members. Clarence “Satch” Satchell in 1995 and Ralph “Pee Wee” Middlebrooks in 1997 so we don’t want to be remiss in talking and thinking about those guys but our recent member lost was Leroy “Sugarfoot” Bonner and we lost him in January 2013. All of the individuals that I talked about were very important and very prominent in the Ohio Players being the Ohio Players without a doubt. All of them and their importance were very invaluable to the group. Sugarfoot was very unusual, charismatic, original, inventive, clever, intelligent, artistic and a visionary kind of guy. I used to tell everybody he was our Mick Jagger of the band. We will always miss him as we do miss the other members. There are four of us in the band today that’ve been with the Ohio Players for over 30 years or so writing and producing music with him and along side of him and we were very blessed to be a part of his life.
OM: Thank you for sharing that about him. Now let’s go back to 1974 when “Fire” and “Love Rollercoaster” were number one hits. What were your thoughts, at that time, about the group having a number one hit?
DIAMOND: Slightly before then, “Skin Tight” was the number one hit too and it was our first platinum album then “Fire” and subsequently “Rollercoaster” were the follow ups. I always thought, Lexi, I’m a young kid out of college, at that time, I’m between 22 and 24 years old, have a wife, a child and a family and I didn’t have any idea what those things really meant. I think you know it takes time to realize and Lexi, it has been some 40 years afterwards and I’m still realizing how major of an important factor that those songs have been to me in my life.
Read the full article at Onyx Magazine.