Legendary Ohio Players member dies

A Dayton funk music pioneer has died.

Ohio Players' bassist Marshall "Rock" Jones died in Houston, Texas, today at about 5:30 a.m., his daughters  Donna Williams and Charlotte Phillips confirmed.



"We appreciate all of the support and prayers,” Williams said. “We lost not only a father, a grandfather and an uncle, we lost an icon to the community and an icon to his family.”
The family is planning a memorial in Dayton. Details will be announced later. 

James "Diamond" Williams,  the Ohio Players' leader said Jones will be missed.

"He was inventive, and he was creative.  He was a great musician," Williams. "Marshall Jones contributed greatly, and we will miss him."

The Dayton native was 75. 

Jones was with the Ohio Players during the height of the legendary band's success. 

He was a member when the group started in Dayton in 1959 as the Ohio Untouchables.

Williams said Jones had battled cancer and had suffered a recent stroke. 

He is pushing for a Dayton street to be named for the Ohio Players while some members are still living. 

From their beginnings in Dayton, The Ohio Players gained international acclaim with a long list of hits that include "Fire," "Love Rollercoaster," "I Wanna be Free," "Pain," "Funky Worm," "Skin Tight," "Honey" and "Sweet Sticky Thing."

Ohio Players bass player Marshall Jones (pictured center in turban) has died.

WDAO radio host Michael Ecton said Jones' signature bassline can be heard through all of the Ohio Players most popular songs, notably "Skin Tight" and "Fire."


Ecton said he started to hang around Jones and other Ohio Players when he was about 13. 

"He was a very friendly person," Ecton said of Jones. "He was an excellent musican. He took his craft very seriously."

Gregory Webster, the original leader of the Ohio Players, called Jones a great man.
Without him, there would have been a lot of things I would have missed out on," the  band's former drummer said. 

Webster, the author of the book "The Early Years/The Ohio Players,"  said he spoke to Jones just two weeks ago by phone.

"He told me he was going to try to beat this (stage 4 cancer) and come home," Webster recalled.

Funk Music Hall of Fame and Exhibition Center President David Webb said Jones was a supportive advisor to his organization.

Webb said Jones was called "Rock" because he was a rock hard bass player.

"Marshall Jones will be dearly missed. (He was) a great friend, a great teacher, a great person," Webb said. "He said funk music is the sweat off of God's feet. (God) stepped his feet into the Miami Valley and sweat fell in water and made funk music in Dayton, Ohio."  

Jones' bass is part of the center's ongoing display at the Dayton Metro Library's North West Branch, 2410 Philadelphia Drive.

After leaving the Ohio Players in the early '80s, Webb said Jones played with blues bands and opened a music studio on Salem Avenue.

Webb, Jones' friend since 1986, said Jones passed life lessons and his musical knowledge on to youth.

"He was really big on biblical (education)," Webb said.

He noted that Jones planned to fly back to Dayton to help the Funk Center with its educational outreach efforts.  

Photo of Marshall Jones contributed by David R. Webb of the Funk Hall of Fame and Exhibition Center.

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