As we reported earlier, Bonner, or “Sugarfoot” as he was know by fans, family and friends, passed away on Saturday at the age of 69 after battling with cancer.
Here, Galloway reminisces about the man he thought of as his childhood hero.
Some kids claim Superman their hero. Mine was “Sugarfoot.” Small in stature yet larger than life, Leroy “Sugarfoot” Bonner was a Black Rock Star – the alter ego I could not have dreamed nor conjured better…and secretly wished I could be.
The first time I ever saw Sugarfoot was on the inside cover of the Ohio Players’ Skin Tight…flashing cool beyond compare with the backdrop of a most perfectly brown and round woman’s bottom behind him. Who could be that cool with ALL THAT at his fingertips?
One wide-but-bleary-eyed “Midnight Special” appearance later and it became clear that he was the one with the colorful country voice barkin’ up all that funk, sendin’ kitty cats up a tree.
If I had a dime for every time my friends and I shouted out “Sugarfoot”…on the playground, in a band rehearsal, in endless debates about the baddest of the baad – in tones from utter awe to highest comedy – I’d be typing this in a steaming hot bubble bath in a tub sculpted from gold inside a Malibu mansion.
At heart, Sugar was a blues man – a street poet who chose his words as carefully as he chose which notes to sting you with next on his trademark double-neck guitar. “If I sang it, I wrote it,” he’d tell you to distinguish what came from his pen in The Players’ canon vs. what did not. The classic Ohio Players gatefold LP covers and greatest “hits” might lead the uninitiated to believe that all The Players ever had on their minds was sex. The Trotwood-Dayton player’s passing at the colorful age of “69,” I’m sure, won’t help (smile). However, neophytes have an education ahead.
Brother Bonner wrote eloquently of love – relationships and relations – from every angle: The Pleasure [“Varee is Love,” “It’s Your Night/Words of Love,” “From Now On (Let’s Play),”] The Pain [“I Want to Be Free,” “Alone,” “My Life,” “It’s All Over”] and The Ecstasy [“Sleep Talk,” “Precious Love,” “Heaven Must Be Like This”]. He had the tangiest of macks for all ladies of lusciousness [“Skin Tight,” “Fire,” “Sweet Sticky Thing”] but he reserved his sweetest poetry for the lady he loved [“Honey,” “Kiss”].
Read the rest of A. Scott Galloway’s piece on “Sugarfoot” at the Urban Music Scene.