After 30 years in the game, the original “Player” in The Ohio Players, drummer James “Diamond” Williams explains why there’s no slowing down the funk.
The Ohio Players may be the most under-appreciated funk band from the ‘70s. They began in the ‘60s as a band so funky they could rival James Brown’s band. Their debut LP, Observations in Time, on Capitol in 1968, showcased more traditional R&B than funk, before they signed with Westbound and returned to their funky roots. At their height they produced 17 Top 40 hits, with several platinum and gold selling albums that included cuts that were masterpieces like “Skin Tight,” “Fire,” “Sweet Sticky Thing,” “Love Rollercoaster” and “Who’d She Coo?”
Known as much for their spirited sartorial choices, rejecting the suits and perms of musicians from the ‘60s, as well as their provocative album covers, The Ohio Players played backup for The O’Jays before they lost all inhibitions with their 1972 album Pain and their follow-up Pleasure. Pleasure spawned their first number #1 hit, “Funky Worm” and entertained audiences with Junie Morrison’s ubiquitous granny voice. “Funky Worm” represented the beginning of a number of classic hits the band would continue to churn out. These hits would turn into samples in the ‘80s and ‘90s and create hits for hip-hop producers for years to come.
For the first time in almost 30 years the original Players have been back in the studio recording new music. Their first single, “Reset,” the title track for an album due out next year impresses with a robust horn section, bombastic guitars, and free form rhythms. After nearly 60 years they are proof that there’s no slowing down the funk.
Drummer James “Diamond” Williams talked to @Okayplayer about reinventing themselves in a new musical landscape, album covers and Playboy models and the losses and the gains of the band over the years.