With the death of Ohio Players frontman Leroy ‘Sugarfoot’ Bonner (69) in 2013, room was left to make the legacy of funk group Ohio Players even more significant to Funk music in general. For those who are not yet familiar with the Ohio Players, Bonner co-founded the group back in 1964 with the former members of The Ohio Untouchables and the group skyrocketed the charts with major hits like ‘Love Rollercoaster’, ‘Fire’ and ‘Sweet Sticky Thing’.
Album covers, especially in the 70’s, were specifically created to serve as a visual extension of the music. In these triumph years of a changing and revolving social and political climate, records and their album covers often pushed the awareness amongst the listening audience. Music was not the only tool anymore. The visual aspect of powerful album art became equally important in drawing in new listeners and revolutionists.
I first became aware of the Ohio Players and their fascinating album art at a record fair in Rijswijk, about 6 or 7 years ago. I had just gotten into the world of crate-digging and enthusiastically let my amateur fingers glide through thousands of records in the funk/jazz/soul section. This all under the careful
guidance of my dear crate-digging peer Nilez. I always knew our shared love for records would someday venture into a business mainly revolving around music, but that’s another story. As I felt the records slide through my, still rusty, fingers I stumbled upon this 1973 Westbound Records released Ohio Players album named ‘Ecstasy’. What drew my undivided attention that particular moment was the insane unconventional photography art by Joel Brodsky. Central on the album cover graced this dominant, bald African-
Unfortunately in nowadays music industry the social and political aspects are becoming less and less important. Esthetics have taken the front seat, together with commercial goals. No seat belts there, I might add. The front car window being the representation of our society as it presently is.
With the rise of the influence of major labels, came the decline of artistic freedom of artists as well as designers, illustrators and photographers. It is time to tip the scale again in favor of creativity, social and political awareness. They always precede positive change and revolution.