The Ohio Untouchables formed their band in 1959 in Dayton, Ohio. They were successful as the backup band for the R&B vocal group the Falcons. Robert Ward was the self-proclaimed leader of the band. When working with him became too difficult, some of the musicians split off. They returned to Dayton and found a new frontman and renamed themselves the Ohio Players in 1965. The group released a few singles, including one that reached #50 on the R&B chart in 1968.
The group fell apart again in 1970 and then reformed with a different lineup. In 1971, the group released Pain (Part 1). The single hit #35 on the R&B chart and finally put the group on the Hot 100 where it reached #64. The follow-up single, Pleasure, failed to return them to the pop chart and only got to #45 on the R&B chart in 1972.
One more non-charting single followed later that year before their breakthrough record in 1973: Funky Worm. The single topped the R&B chart and made it to #15 on the Hot 100. The song qualifies as a novelty record, and it sold over a million copies. Its most notable feature was worm noises created using a whining ARP synthesizer.
An endless list of artists has sampled the squealing worm on the record:
- De La Soul in Me, Myself, & I
- DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince in Boom! Shake the Room
- Ice Cube in Wicked
- Ice Cube in Ghetto Bird
- Kris Kross in Jump
- Lil’ ½ Dead in East Side, West Side
- N.W.A. in Dopeman
- N.W.A. in Gangsta Gangsta
- Ruff Ryder in Bugout
- Tim Dog in Skip to My Loot
- other songs by Dr. Dre, Game, MC Breed, Too $hort, and Xzibit and more
In addition, the wrestling squad L.A.X. has used the song has as their entrance song.
The group, fortunately, did not turn into a one-hit-wonder. Their next single in 1973 may not have been a big hit, but Ecstasy still reached #31 on the Hot 100 and #12 on the R&B chart.
They recorded four more #1 R&B songs, two of which (Fire and Love Rollercoaster) also reached #1 on the Hot 100. Hit records became less frequent in the eighties and stopped completely by the end of that decade.
A reorganized Ohio Players group still schedules concert dates.
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