More sad news out of the music industry. Robert “Bip” Neal, lead vocalist and percussion of the seventies funk band Faze-O, has died. Yet another of the incredible trove of great funk bands to emerge from the state of Ohio, Faze-O is known for the 1977 album and single “Riding High”, which was produced by Clarence “Satch” Satchell of the Ohio Players. They have been lauded and sampled by artists ever since. The Dayton-based group consisted of Neal on percussion and lead vocals, Roger Parker on drums, Ralph Aikins on guitar, Keith Harrison on keyboards and Tyrone Crum on bass. In the mid 70s they were signed to She Records, and released three albums in three years, “Riding High”, “Good Thang” and “Breaking The Funk.” Their initial single, “Riding High”, became a funk classic, hitting the top 10 winning them fans around the world. Faze-O’s music showed great sophistication, attracting both straight funk fans and jazz fusion fans. And in subsequent years, hip hop artists certainly cherished the work of Faze-O, making samples that played a key role in future rap hits. Neal was a key component in the group’s success, composing many of the acts most popular songs, and also serving as lead singer. Neal’s death is a reminder of the wealth of talent that R&B fans took for granted in the 70s and 80s, and how the work from that period has held up, more than four decades later.