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Artist Retired | Artist Biography
Wild Cherry was an American funk rock band best known for their song "Play That Funky Music".
Rob Parissi (lead vocals & guitar) was raised in the steel mill town of Mingo Junction, Ohio. Parissi graduated from Mingo High School in 1968. Rob formed the band Wild Cherry in 1970 in Steubenville, Ohio, one mile north of Mingo Junction along the Ohio River. The band's name "Wild Cherry" was taken from a box of cough drops while Rob was recuperating from a brief hospital stay. The band played the Ohio Valley region, Wheeling, West Virginia and the rest of the Northern West Virginia panhandle, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The original lineup included: Ben Difabbio (drums and vocals), Louie Osso (guitar, lead and background vocals) from Steubenville, Ohio, Larry Brown (bass, lead and background vocals) from Weirton, West Virginia, Larry Mader (keyboards, lead and background vocals) from East Springfield, Ohio, and Rob Parissi (lead vocals and guitar). Over time, the band members changed, with Osso, Brown, and Mader leaving the band, and Rob's cousin, Coogie Stoddart (guitar, lead and background vocals), Joe Buchmelter (bass), the later shortly replaced by Buckie Lusk.
Several records before "Play That Funky Music" were released under their own label during the early 1970s, including "You Can Be High (But Lay Low)," date unknown, and "Something Special On Your Mind," in 1971. The music at this stage was pure rock music, not funk. Wild Cherry eventually gained a record contract with Brown Bag Records, owned and operated by the late Terry Knight of Terry Knight And The Pack fame, who later on without Terry became Grand Funk Railroad, who Terry also produced at the time for Capitol records. Several demos and singles on Knight's Brown Bag label distributed by United Artists were produced including "Get Down" (1973) and "Show Me Your Badge" (1973).
The band broke up when a disillusioned Parissi left the music scene to become the manager of a local steakhouse. Rob quickly realized that the steakhouse gig was not going to cut it. As his enthusiasm for the music eventually returned, Rob decided to give the business one last shot.
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