Play That Funky Music: A Funky Journey Through the Wild Cherry Band’s Smash Hit

Play That Funky Music has been a classic funky tune for decades. The catchy rhythm, groovy guitar lick, and soulful lyrics make it an instant hit among music lovers. From white boy original artist lyrics to the iconic riff on the lead guitar, this song has everything that’s quintessentially funky. But do you know the story behind it? Who played lead guitar on Play That Funky Music? Who wrote the music for it? What happened to the Wild Cherry Band? In this blog post, we’ll explore the journey of this funky track and discover its roots and evolution.

The Emergence of Wild Cherry Band

To appreciate the making of Play That Funky Music, we need to travel back to the early ’70s when a small-time band from Ohio was making the rounds. That band was Wild Cherry. The band comprised of Rob Parissi (lead vocals and guitar), Ben Difabbio (drums), Louie Osso (guitar), Larry Brown (bass), and Larry Mader (keyboards). They had been performing for a while but hadn’t achieved much success until they stumbled upon a funky tune that would change their fortunes forever.

The Origins of Play That Funky Music

It was a cold winter night in Ohio, and the band had a gig at a club. The audience was predominantly African American, and the band members felt out of place. But soon, they noticed that the crowd was dancing to a particular song they had never heard before. It was a funky tune that had the entire club grooving to its beats. The band members approached the DJ to ask about the song, only to learn that it was an original composition of the DJ himself. The song was called Play That Funky Music, White Boy.

As soon as the band got back to their studio, they started jamming to the tune and reworked the song into a more cohesive structure. They changed the lyrics and altered the melody to fit their style. The result was a song that had the same groovy rhythm but with a different feel to it.

The Success of Play That Funky Music

The band released Play That Funky Music as a single in 1976. The song soon climbed the charts, reaching the top of the US Billboard Hot 100, R&B, and Disco charts. The funky rhythm, catchy lyrics, and groovy guitar riff made it an instant success. The song was even covered by KC and the Sunshine Band, which added to its popularity.

Play That Funky Music became Wild Cherry’s only hit, but it was enough to cement their place in the music industry. Their album, also called Play That Funky Music, reached the 39th position on the US Billboard 200 chart. It remained on the charts for several weeks, solidifying Wild Cherry’s place in music history.

The Evolution of Play That Funky Music

Play That Funky Music has stayed relevant for over four decades. The song has been covered by several artists, and its groovy rhythm and catchy lyrics make it a hit even today. But what really sets this song apart is the iconic guitar riff.

Who played lead guitar on Play That Funky Music? It was none other than the band’s frontman, Rob Parissi. The now-famous riff was a result of Parissi’s experimentation with his guitar. He borrowed elements from various genres like rock, blues, and funk to create the unique riff that would become the backbone of the song.

The Legacy of Wild Cherry and Play That Funky Music

Play That Funky Music catapulted Wild Cherry to fame, but their success was short-lived. The band struggled to replicate the success of their hit single and eventually disbanded in the late ’70s. In the aftermath of their success, Parissi went on to create the Wild Cherry sound, which was a blend of funk, rock, and disco.

Today, Play That Funky Music remains an iconic song that represents the funk genre. The legacy of Wild Cherry and their catchy tune lives on, inspiring generations of music lovers to groove to its beats.


In conclusion, Play That Funky Music is more than just a catchy tune. It is a symbol of the evolution of music and how it can transcend boundaries. From a single night in an Ohio club to global success, the song’s journey is a testament to the power of music and the magic that happens when different genres and cultures converge. Whether you’re a die-hard fan or a first-time listener, Play That Funky Music has something for everyone.

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