Friday, June 22, 2012

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Wild Cherry

Artist:Wild Cherry
Song:Play That Funky Music
Album:Soul Hits Of The 70's

Play That Funky Music was one of the biggest hits of 1976. It topped the Billboard Hot 100 and the R & B Singles chart. So it crossed over in a big way. Though it is perceived as a one hit wonder, some of Wild Cherry's other songs charted. So technically Play That Funky Music is not a one hit wonder but it's the only song most folks remember. I would describe it as the one really good song by a mediocre band. Wild Cherry lead singer, guitarist and songwriter Rob Parissi grew up in the Steubenville, OH suburb of Mingo Junction. He formed Wild Cherry in 1970 and played clubs in the Ohio Valley, Pittsburgh and Wheeling, WV. They released singles independently and signed with Brown Bag Records with United Artists distribution. Brown Bag was owned by Terry Knight of the 60s band Terry Knight and the Pack which morphed into Grand Funk Railroad. Some singles were released but Parissi became disillusioned and split up the band. He managed a steak house for a while. In 1975, he reformed Wild Cherry with Bryan Bassett on guitar, Ron Beitle on drums and Allen Wentz on bass. They were veterans of the Pittsburgh music scene. Wild Cherry were always a rock group. But they were playing a gig in Pittsburgh when a table of black fans kept yelling "When are you white boys gonna play some funky music?" During a break between sets, Beitle repeated the phrase and Parissi wrote it down on a drink order pad. He wrote the song in five minutes. When Wild Cherry recorded the song, studio engineer Ken Hammann liked it so much, Wild Cherry got a record deal with Sweet City Records with Epic Records distribution. The band wanted Play That Funky Music to be on the B-side of their cover of The Commodores' I Feel Sanctified. Sweet City flipped it over and the rest is history. Play That Funky Music was one of those rare songs to cross all musical genres. You can get it on this 3CD various artists budget comp from Sony. Subsequent releases weren't as successful and Wild Cherry split up in 1979. You may recall that rapper Vanilla Ice covered Play That Funky Music but didn't credit Parissi. Parissi sued him successfully. Rob Parissi moved to Miami in 1979 and recorded with Bobby Caldwell. He has also been a radio personality in Wheeling, WV and currently records and produces smooth jazz. Allen Wentz is a session musician in New York City. Bryan Bassett owns a recording studio in Florida and tours with Foghat. Here's Wild Cherry performing Play That Funky Music on The Midnight Special 1976.

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