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Billy Beck

Two Time Grammy Winner Bily Beck of The Ohio Players

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Beck joined just as the Ohio Players’ career was skyrocketing. The band had its first chart-topping R&B single, “Funky Worm,” the same year Beck joined the band. It went from the Detroit-based independent label Westbound to a major label, Mercury Records. “Skin Tight,” the first album he recorded with the group, sold a million copies and spawned two top 10 R&B singles, “Jive Turkey” and the title track.“‘Jive Turkey’ was the very first one (song) I came up with,” Beck said. “With that one, we were on stage, just a little groove after doing one song, and Satch said, ‘Keep it going, don’t stop.’ We turned it into a groove, and that groove turned and changed and turned into that. The first voice you hear on that song is me.”

The Ohio Players soon went from playing four hour-long sets a night in nightclubs to playing some of the biggest venues in the world, such as a concert at the Superdome in New Orleans where they shared the stage with Marvin Gaye and Michael Jackson.

And Beck quickly got over his fear of flying. Shortly after he joined, the band was booked to appear on “Soul Train.” When he balked at flying to Los Angeles, Beck said he was told to get on the plane or we’ll get another keyboard player. Beck stayed with the band until the late ’80s.

“There were monetary disputes,” he said. “I decided not to deal with certain piracies that were going on. They went one way, and I got more up into writing and producing and started working with the Troutmans.”

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