Tonight we say a sad goodbye to Greg Webster, Sr., the incredible drummer who helped lead the early years of the legendary band The Ohio Players. He was 84. Webster was an integral part of the group’s hit albums Pain and Pleasure, and wrote the 2001 biography of the band, The Early Years / The Ohio Players.
One of the funkiest groups in the funkiest decade, the Ohio Players became the template for a generation of Midwest jamming groups. Webster was part of the second generation of what was called the Ohio Untouchables, along with Marshall “Rock” Jones (bass), Clarence “Satch” Satchell (saxophone/guitar), Cornelius Johnson (drums), and Ralph “Pee Wee” Middlebrooks (trumpet/trombone) and Leroy “Sugarfoot” Bonner, and later trumpeter Bruce Napier, trombonist Marvin Pierce, and keyboardist Walter “Junie” Morrison, turned it into The Ohio Players.
Five years into their time as a band, The Ohio Players signed with the Detroit-based Westbound label, and in 1971 began a string of three successful albums, each punctuated by a loose, funky sound and erotic album covers that brought added attention. Pain hit the R&B top 20, and Pleasure cracked the top 5, beginning a string of monster hit LPs that would continue for years to come. Webster left the act before the band’s Mercury Records signing and biggest hits, but his early influence on the group’s sound set the stage for the Imperial Period that was to come.
Years after leaving the group, Webster reflected on his days as a member of The Ohio Players, and felt there were great stories and lessons he wanted to share with fans. So he wrote the 2001 biography, which provided much added information that the band’s most loyal fans enjoyed reading.
Webster also played with other R&B greats over the years, including Jerry Butler, Charles Brown and Jimmy McGriff. And he remained a fixture in his hometown of Dayton, often playing local clubs.
He was a major part of the formation and early years of an all-time great band, and tonight we salute Mr. Webster one more time.