Thursday, September 17, 2009

Love Rollercoaster

Song: Love Rollercoaster
Artist: Ohio Players
Album: Honey

So I've been listening to my last blogged-about song, Tommy Sparks' "She's Got Me Dancing" quite a bit, and yesterday I was listening and thought... man that bass line sounds familiar. And then it hit me... it really is reminiscent of the Ohio Players "Love Rollercoaster." I took a listen this morning, and while it's mildly different... it's only mildly. Take a listen below and tell me what you think. Many of you will probably remember the Red Hot Chili Peppers cover from the 90's.

I also didn't realize that "Love Rollercoaster" was part of an urban legend...

"Love Rollercoaster" is a song by American funk/R&B band The Ohio Players, originally featured on their 1975 albumHoney. The song was a hit upon its initial release, reaching the top of both the R&B and pop charts, and still sees wide airplay on classic funk and R&B stations. The song uses the roller coaster, a common theme park attraction, as a metaphor for the ups and downs of dating and romantic relationships.

Urban legend

While the song is known within the music community for its distinctive and influential sound, within the popular imagination it remains best identified with a persistent urban legend. During an instrumental portion of the song, a high-pitched scream is heard (between 2:32 and 2:36 on the single version); this was Billy Beck, but according to the most common legend, it was the voice of an individual being murdered live while the tape was rolling. The "victim's" identity varies greatly depending on the version. The supposed sources of the scream have included an individual who was killed at some prior time, her scream inexplicably recorded and looped into the track. Another version tells of a rabbit being killed outside the studio whose scream was accidentally picked up by the band's recording equipment - highly implausible, since professional recording studios are soundproof. The most widespread version of the myth, however, tells that Ester Cordet, who appeared nude on theHoney album cover, had been badly burned by the super-heated honey used for the photo shoot, which occurred simultaneous with the recording session, and her agonized screams were inadvertently captured on tape. A further variation had Cordet suffering permanent disfigurement due to the burns; she interrupted the band's recording session, threatening to sue, at which point the band's manager stabbed her to death in the control room. Both of the latter two scenarios, however, are impossible as Ester Cordet is still alive.

Casey Kasem reported the urban myth of the woman being killed in the studio recording booth on his radio show, American Top 40, when the song was on the charts in 1976.

Jimmy "Diamond" Williams explained that the scream was nothing eerie or disturbing:

There is a part in the song where there's a breakdown. It's guitars and it's right before the second verse and Billy Beck does one of those inhaling-type screeches like Minnie Riperton did to reach her high note or Mariah Carey does to go octaves above. The DJ made this crack and it swept the country. People were asking us, 'Did you kill this girl in the studio?' The band took a vow of silence because you sell more records that way.

Red Hot Chili Peppers cover

"Love Rollercoaster"
Single by Red Hot Chili Peppers
from the album Beavis and Butt-Head Do America Soundtrack
GenreFunk rock
LabelGeffen Records
ProducerRick Rubin
Red Hot Chili Peppers singles chronology
"Shallow Be Thy Game"
"Love Rollercoaster"
"Scar Tissue"
Beavis and Butthead Do America Soundtrack track listing
"Two Cool Guys"
"Love Rollercoaster"
"Ain't Nobody"

"Love Rollercoaster" was covered by the Red Hot Chili Peppers in 1996, with lead singer Anthony Kiedis adding a rap to the song, and the horn section replaced with an approximation played on kazoos. Their version appeared on the soundtrack of the animated film Beavis and Butt-head Do America. There was also an animated music video that was made for the song, featuring Beavis, Butt-head, and the band riding an amusement park roller coaster, intercut with scenes from the film. The song is played early in the movie itself, when Beavis and Butt-head arrive in Las Vegas. In the dance hall scene, a fictional funk band is shown performing the song live (the one appearing on the background of the single cover).

Track listing

CD Single 1
  1. "Love Rollercoaster"
  2. "Lesbian Seagull - Engelbert Humperdinck"
CD Single 2
  1. "Love Rollercoaster" (Clean Edit)
  2. "Love Rollercoaster" (Rock Rollercoaster Mix)
  3. "Love Rollercoaster" (LP Version)

In the media

The song was featured briefly in the film Urban Legend, where a reference is made to the myth associated with it.

It makes a more prominent appearance in the third Final Destination film, where the song is played as death stalks and manifests itself to kill two teenage girls tanning in a tanning salon. This use is a dual reference used as a "sign" in the film citing the metaphoric legend of that song is known for, and the literal rollercoaster which plays an important deadly role in the film.

The song was also featured in the movie After The Sunset. The song was played during a point when an FBI agent was locked in his car and the "villans" were flooding the car with sleeping gas.

This song was used in the Nickelodeon series The Adventures of Pete & Pete during a band scene.

The song was also in an episode of the Bernie Mac show during the scene where Jordan was having his party and the kids were passing germs along the way.

This song is played in the movie Johnson's Family Vacation, when the family is being stalked by a Pampers Semi-Truck.

A cover version of the song, based on the Red Hot Chili Peppers version, is featured in the Nintendo Wii game Boogie. Some of the more sexually suggestive lyrics were changed.

The song was sampled by Rodney O & Joe Cooley in their 1991 song Get Ready to Roll.

The original version featured on the 2004 video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas soundtrack on the game's funk radio station Bounce FM.

The Ohio Players' version was used in a Suzuki Jimny advert during the mid 2000s.

The Ohio Players are a funk and R&B band. They are best known for their hit songs "Fire" and "Love Rollercoaster".


The band formed in Dayton, Ohio in 1959 as the Ohio Untouchables, and initially included members Robert Ward(vocals/guitar), Marshall "Rock" Jones (bass), Clarence "Satch" Satchell (saxophone/guitar), Cornelius Johnson (drums), and Ralph "Pee Wee" Middlebrooks (trumpet/trombone). The Ohio Untouchables broke up in 1963 with Ward leaving for a solo career, but the core members of the group returned to Dayton and added Gregory Webster (drums) and Leroy "Sugarfoot" Bonner (guitar) in 1964. The group added two more singers, Bobby Lee Fears and Dutch Robinson, and became the house band for New York City-based Compass Records in 1967. They soon became one of the better known R&B bands of the 1970s. Their song "Runnin' from the Devil" inspired the Van Halen song "Runnin' With the Devil".

The group disbanded again in 1970. After again reforming with a line-up including Bonner, Satchell, Middlebrooks, Jones, Webster, trumpeter Bruce Napier, trombonist Marvin Pierce, and keyboardist Walter "Junie" Morrison, the Players had a minor hit on the Detroit-based Westbound label in 1971 with "Pain" which reached the Billboard R&B Top 40. Detroit vocalist Dale Allen shared co-lead vocals on some of the early Westbound material, although not credited on the albums "Pain" and "Pleasure".

The band’s first big hit was "Funky Worm", which hit #1 on the Billboard R&B Charts and made the pop Top 15 in May1973. The band signed with Mercury Records in 1974. By this time, their lineup had changed again, with keyboardist Billy Beck instead of Morrison and Jimmy "Diamond" Williams on drums instead of Webster. On later album releases, they added second guitarist/vocalist Clarence 'Chet' Willis and conga player Robert "Rumba" Jones to the lineup. Bonner sang lead vocals on most of the band's hits.

The band had seven Top 40 hits between 1973 and 1976, including "Fire" (#1 on both the R&B and pop charts for two weeks and one week respectively in February 1975) and "Love Rollercoaster" (#1 on both the R&B and pop charts for 1 week in January 1976). The group's last big hit was "Who'd She Coo?" a #1 R&B hit in August 1976.

The band became widely known not only for their sound, which has been sampled and copied by countless R&B and hip-hop artists since, but for their sexually provocative album covers, including the cover of 1974's Ecstasy, which featured a man and a woman in a pose of arousal wearing chains and leather, and 1975's Honey, which featured a nude woman holding an overflowing jar of honey and dropping some into her mouth with a ladle.

There is an urban legend that has it that a scream on "Love Rollercoaster" that came during the break after the second verse was the sound of someone being murdered in the studio while the track was being recorded. It is widely believed to be the scream of a female model (the nude woman Ester Cordet featured on the image for the Honey album) after being stabbed with a knife by the band's manager. She was complaining that the honey and fibre glass she was sitting on reacted when mixed causing permanent damage to her legs during the image photography, ending her modelling career. She then approached the manager seeking compensation during the recording of "Love Rollercoaster" only to be stabbed and attacked. The Ohio Players then left the scream in as a sick tribute.

The band did not discredit this rumor at the time, because, as one band member put it later, "that makes you sell more records." This is just an urban legend however, as are any other disturbing explanations, including a person murdered outside the recording studio (although recording studios are soundproof and the scream would not have been heard), a band member murdering his girlfriend or a cleaning woman in the recording studio, or a real scream taken from a 911 call or a Psychiatric ward.

Marshall Jones (4 October 1942 - 18 August 1984) died. Clarence Satchell (15 April 1940 - 30 December 1995) died after he had a brain aneurysm. Ralph Middlebrooks (b. 20 August 1939) died in November 1997.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers were one of the bands heavily influenced by the Ohio Players, covering "Love Rollercoaster" for the film Beavis and Butt-head Do America. In the UK, there was a chain of music and DVD stores named after one of their hit songs, "Fopp". "Fopp" was also covered by Soundgarden for an EP called Fopp.


Love Rollercoaster (live) - Ohio Players

Love Rollercoaster - Red Hot Chili Peppers

She's Got Me Dancing - Tommy Sparks

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