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Play That Funky Music by Wild Cherry

Album: Wild CherryReleased: 1976Charted:
  • Wild Cherry frontman Rob Parissi wanted to write a hit song, and his plan was to copy from the best. He subscribed to Billboard magazine, which charts the hit songs. When it arrived each week, he would pick out a song or two to copy, making it just different enough to avoid getting sued. After some time doing this, he wrote the one that became his #1 hit. The song he copied: "Fire" by The Ohio Players (listen especially to the bassline and vocal stylings).
  • Wild Cherry was a hard rock band. They had a regular gig at the 2001 Club, and with disco big at the time, their sound didn't go over well. After one show, a black audience member shouted, "Play some funky music, white boy." Parissi decided they should, and wrote down the phrase on a bar order pad. They recorded it in Cleveland with a disco sound: drum and bass mixed way up front. The band was concerned about the lyrics, but Parissi insisted on keeping them.
  • This was going to be the B-side of Wild Cherry's cover of the Commodores' "I Feel Sanctified." When they heard it, the owners of their record label suggested that the B-side become the A-side. The song sold over two million copies, but was Wild Cherry's only hit.
  • Vanilla Ice released a cover of this song as the follow-up to his massive hit "Ice Ice Baby." His version hit #4 in the US, but was his last hit. Ice did not credit Robert Parissi for writing this, so when Parissi sued Ice, he received a large settlement.
  • Rob Parissi got the idea for the group's name from a box of cough drops he saw when he was in the hospital. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Rob - Rothesay, NB, Canada
  • This song was a topic of conversation on the 2015 episode of The Big Bang Theory, "The Skywalker Incursion." When the song comes on the car radio, the scientist character Sheldon determines that the song is funky, and that it is requesting a white boy to play funky music. Seeing it as an example of Russell's Paradox, he asks, "Do you think this song is the music the white boy ultimately plays?"
  • For certain plot lines, only this song will do. TV series that have used it include Scandal and The Office; movies include Mystery Men (1999), Whatever It Takes (2000), Evolution (2001), Undercover Brother (2002), Malibu's Most Wanted (2003), Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (2004) and Obsessed (2009).
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Comments: 26

The lyrics posted here are for a rapper's cover version of the song, not Wild Cherry's.Joshua - North Jersey
On April 29th 1978, Wild Cherry performed "I Love My Music" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
Two month earlier on February 19th, 1978 it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #91; eventually it peaked at #69 and spent 8 weeks on the Top 100...
It was their last Top 100 hit; between 1976 and 1978 the group had five Top 100 hits, with "Play That Funky Music" bring their biggest hit , it reached #1 (for 3 weeks) on September 22nd, 1976 and spent almost a half-year on the Top 100 (25 weeks).
Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
to say this was a one hit wonder is not true
since the radio dont play the whole record a few things can be missed !!
or you all just play the funky track and thats it??

try nowhere to run this is a great mix of love and funk and it has a very good and solid message with it
the words will draw you in to the feel and you will wanna sing this song
also and even more note worthy is the track hold on
this is a great love song
and the solo sonic`s are just breath taking
this was a big turn table favorie for those who wanted to really know how great their speakers could sound
the song makes you want to hold someone you love and be thankful for everything thats kepted you together and in love
dont just tell someone they are so much to you
hold them and sing them thi song and really show them how much you need them and how much you really truely love them
your rewards will never be forgotten ever
John - Lancaster, Ca
What was the bass guitar players name?N - San Diego, Ca
I remember the scene in "Evolution" where Sean William Scott, David Duchovny and Orlando Jones is driving down the highway and digging this song:)

So funny...
Budoshi - Sandnessjøen, Norway
The best disco song ever! The hook is killer.Theresa - Murfreesboro, Tn
Probably the best funky song of all time. PLAY THAT FUNKY MUSIC, WHITE BOY!Billy - Nederland , Tx
This is my theme song!Bob - Las Vegas, Nv
The title has become synonymous with bad singers or street entertainers in the UK. When they are mangling an Oasis tune in a subway or underpass, the usual (ironic) message of encouragement is, "Play That Funky Music, White Boy"Dave - Liverpool, United Kingdom
I loved it then & I love it more now!!!This gets me pumped up for my workout.Gigi Crawford - Columbus, Ga
If this song doesn't get you moving, you're dead! You just gotta groove! Resistance is futile.Wayne - Crockett, Tx
This is top-notch! I once sang this next to a Karaoke machine. Wild Cherry, you guys rock! I wish you guys made more recordings! If you guys do get around to making more recordings, I need to know. I'll be eager to hear them. In case of you making more recordings, I wish you guys the best of luck. You shall have God's blessing. I imagine that, if existent, those recordings will be just as good as "Play That Funky Music"! So try to make more recordings, because you guys are experts!!Andrew - Birmingham, United States
I like this song. But I must admit that the first time I heard it, it sounded like, "Play that f***ing music, white boy." I wondered how the DJs got away with playing such a song. Now I wonder whether it was deliberately sung that way to get people's attention.Musicmama - New York, Ny
The Lyrics posted on this page are missing the second verse. "I tried to understand this, I thought that they were out of their minds . . . . "Mikey - Boston, Ma
The trumpet player that toured with this band is now the director of Jazz and Popular music at Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach Florida. He also played with K.C. and Aretha Franklin.Brian - Cleveland, Oh
Donny Iris, a Pittsburgh staple was a member of Wild Cherry as well as The Jaggerz and Donny Iris and the Cruisers.Lisa - Delmont, Pa
I was 13 when this song was new & one of my aunts hated this song cause she thought it was saying "Play That F----ng Music." I had the 45 so everytime she was around I played it all time :-) was I badAlf - Kingston, Canada
I always thought this was done by KC and the Sunshine Band...heh, my bad.Brandon - Peoria, Il
LOVE IT!! Great dance song. It's played at all my family gatherings. I especially liked it when Taylor Hicks sang it on American Idol!!!Caitlin - Upper Township, Nj
It also featured on "Undercover Brother"Dali - Dallas, Tx
I love this song! that's funny, billyJohnny - Los Angeles, Ca
There's A Country Version Called Play That Country Music,Cowboy. Don't Know the Artist,Though.Billy - Otway, Oh
This song brings back great memories. I was 16 when it came out. Wild Cherry was from Pittsburgh. I was a teenager in Wheeling, W.Va., about an hour from Pittsburgh. And Wild Cherry sometimes played at our teen summer dances in Wheeling. what great dance tunes.Brenda - Columbus, Oh
The group actually got their name from a box of cough drops.....Louden's Wild Cherry Cough Drops.Allen - Dothan, Al
This Song is SMOKING!
{i love it}... it's cool for an old song.
Cindy - Sydney, United States
This was Wild Cherry's only hitAj - Cleveland, Ga
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