Artist picture of Wild Cherry

Wild Cherry

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Formed in Mingo Junction, Ohio in 1970, Wild Cherry was a funk, rock, and soul band best known for their 1976 international hit “Play That Funky Music.” Founded by lead vocalist and guitarist Rob Parissi, Wild Cherry went through numerous line-up changes with Parissi remaining the sole constant member during their nine-year existence. The first Wild Cherry line-up focused on paying rock music and became a popular local live band. Beginning in 1970, they released a series of singles on their own label including “You Can Be High (But Lay Low)” (1970), “Something Special on Your Mind” (1971), and “Voodoo Doll” (1975). However, the band’s lack of success led to Rob Parissi disbanding Wild Cherry in 1974. Recruiting all new band members the following year – including keyboardist and songwriter Mark Avsec – this new version of the band embraced funk, soul, and disco Parissi wrote “Play That Funky Music” and intended it to be a B-side. However, their new label, Cleveland Recording Company, insisted on putting the song on the A-side, and it became a huge smash, landing on the top of the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B Singles charts. The song reached the Top 10 in Belgium, New Zealand, and the UK. The single helped propel the album to Number 1 on the R&B Albums chart and Number 5 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart. It was also a Top 20 hit in Norway and the Netherlands. However, the band failed to capitalize on the success of the single and only scored a handful of minor hits, although “Hot to Trot” made the Top 20 in New Zealand. Even line-up changes – including the addition of former Jaggerz vocalist Donnie Iris – didn’t help their commercial fortunes and the band split up in 1979. Keyboardist Mark Avsec and vocalist/guitarist Donnie Iris would then join forces and score hits as Donnie Iris and the Cruisers.