THE 1000 BEST SONGS IN THE WORLD EVER.
240-Wild Cherry-Play That Funky Music.
1976-Number 7 single.
Best Bit-At 0-01. Wild Cherry’s founding member and lead singer Rob Parissi chose the bands name from a box of cough drops he saw when he was in hospital, how un-Rock ‘N Roll is that?
Rob Parissi was born on December 29th, 1950, in Mungo Juntion, Ohio, United States, in 1970 he formed the band Wild Cherry, with five others. Over the course of the next few years there would be two members leave, and two new members would replace them. Parissi broke up the band around 1974, but reformed with more changes made in 1975, which began the groups successful period through until the final parting of the ways in 1979. In total Wild Cherry released four studio Albums between 1976-1979, and 15 singles between 1970-1979. ‘Play That Funky Music’ was the bands only top 40 single on both sides of the Atlantic, and with it reaching Number 1 in America, it makes them ‘One Hit Wonders’ in every sense of the meaning.
Wild Cherry started out life as a ‘Rock’ band, who as well as playing original material, would also do covers, and they played several times a week in club residences, but this was at the time of the onset of ‘Disco,’ and if the group were to survive they would have to change their musical style. The story goes that while the band were playing at the ‘2001 Club,’ in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to a predominantly black audience, a patron said to the drummer Ronald Beitle (1954-2017) during a break,’Are you going to play some funky music, white boys?’ On hearing this Rob Parissi wrote down the phrase immediately and then wrote the lyrics about a band who changed their style from ‘Rock’ music to ‘Disco’ music. Some of the band and their record label were reluctant to release a song with lyrics that included ‘white boy,’ but Parissi was insistent saying it just wouldn’t be the same song without that phrase. He of course was proven correct as the song has now sold in excess of 2.5 million copies in the United States alone, and is one of the top 100 best selling songs of all time on Billboard.
‘Play That Funky Music’ was written and produced by Rob Parissi, and appeared on Wild Cherry’s self titled debut Album from 1976. Parissi has stated that got he the idea for the songs bassline, and his own vocal delivery, after listening to The Ohio Players 1974 Billboard Number 1 single ‘Fire’ (see also best songs 506.) In 1990 the American Rapper Vanilla Ice released a cover version of ‘Play that Funky Music’ which reached Number 4 in America, and Number 10 in the UK. Unfortunately for Vanilla Ice he failed to have Parissi credited, and in a lawsuit brought by Parissi, Vanilla Ice was forced to pay $500,000 to Parissi for copyright infringement.
‘Hey, once I was a boogie singer, playin’ in a Rock and Roll band. I never had no problems burnin’ down the one night stands. And everything around me got to start to feelin’ so low, and I decided quickly yes I did, to Disco down and check out the show.’