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Leroy "Sugarfoot" Bonner Leroy “Sugarfoot” Bonner (pictured), who was the frontman for the R&B funkmeisters of the 70’s, the Ohio Players, passed away Saturday from undisclosed causes, reports the Rolling Stone. He was 69-years-old.

The oldest of 14 children, Bonner ran away as a young teen from his hometown of Hamilton, Ohio to seek fame and fortune.  As a way to survive, the young musician played the harmonica for change on street corners.   Bonner managed to team up with former members of a group called The Ohio Untouchables to launch the R&B funk band, the Ohio Players in 1964.

As a founding member of the chart-topping group, Bonner was a familiar face, always front and center amongst the band members.  The Ohio Players with their flamboyant costumes, brow-raising album cover art and heavy brass section had seven Top 40 hits, “Skin Tight,” “Love Rollercoaster” and “Fire,” which are classics that still manage to move a crowd.

The group’s funky R&B sound helped to define an era of music that included the likes of Parliament Funkadelic and Kool and the Gang.  Bonner’s commanding, yet soulfully soothing lead vocals — on full display in the group’s hit “Heaven Must Be Like This” and unrivaled verve as he performed — made the Ohio Players a historical musical mainstay.

Bonner continued to tour and perform right up until present day in an offshoot group of the Ohio Players called ‘Sugarfoot’s Ohio Players.’

“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,” stated a posting attributed as an “official family announcement” on the Facebook page of Sugarfoot’s Ohio Players. “He will be missed but not forgotten as his legacy and music lives on.”

RIP Sugarfoot…

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