Album: Fire (1974)
Charted: 1
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Songfacts®:

  • Long before it became the theme song to Gordon Ramsay's long-running reality series Hell's Kitchen, this blistering funk jam blazed its way to the top of the Hot 100 in 1975, giving the Ohio Players their first #1 hit on the chart.
  • Prior to "Fire," the group's highest-charting Hot 100 entry was "Funky Worm," an influential novelty number led by keyboardist/vocalist Junie Morrison that hit #15 in 1973. When the band left the Detroit-based Westbound label for a major deal at Mercury Records, Morrison stayed behind and, after pursuing a solo career, eventually joined up with Parliament-Funkadelic. Billy Beck replaced him on keys and Jimmy "Diamond" Williams took over on drums, forming the Ohio Players' classic lineup. Fire, which boasted the hit title track, was the band's second Mercury album. It was their first and only chart-topper on the US albums chart.
  • This was also a #1 hit on the R&B chart.
  • Lead Ohio Player Leroy "Sugarfoot" Bonner, who also wrote the lyrics about getting hot for a smokin' woman, recalled how the song came to life in the studio. "We were in the studio making tracks and all of a sudden, it leaped out," he told Fred Bronson, author of The Billboard Book Of #1 R&B Hits. His bandmates came up with the title "Fire" and he ran with it. "They come with the names and I have to write to them. If the music is good, it doesn't take long to get inspired," he explained. The inclusion of the telltale fire-truck sirens was a no-brainer. He added: "To use all the effects one could use on a track like that, the fire engines and all that seemed very apropos to what was going on on the albums of that era. Other people were using babies crying and kids singing and street sounds. A lot of people were using sound effects of various natures, so we thought about that also."
  • The band played the rhythm track for Stevie Wonder, who immediately pegged it as a hit. "He heard it and knew it was a smash," drummer Jimmy Williams told Bronson. "Just like before we even said any words on the track, we knew it was a smash. There was nothing that was going to stop this hit."
  • With their second million-selling album and a #1 hit to their credit, the Ohio Players were on fire. Thanks to their combustible chart-topper, they were also inspiring literal blazes: Some fans thought it was funny to set fire to hotel rooms when they knew the band was staying at a particular hotel. Said Williams: "They kicked us out of the Hyatt House on Sunset [Boulevard] in California when somebody started a fire on the floor and burned a bed because we were staying there. We had to leave."
  • The Fire album is adorned with a beautiful model wearing little more than a fireman's helmet and suggestively gripping a hose. Early on in their career, the Ohio Players figured out the key to boosting album sales was to put a sexy girl on the cover. Williams told Veer Magazine in 2019: "We thought if we put an attractive woman on the album cover that would draw attention. And maybe after drawing the attention, they'd take the album home and play it. It was just a concept where we were on the edge. We got with some Playboy photographers and models in Chicago. The band would come up with these different ideas, and we went with it."
  • This was used in these movies:

    Bedtime Stories (2008)
    My Mom's New Boyfriend (2008)
    The Comebacks (2007)
    Lady In The Water (2006)
    Roll Bounce (2005)
    Lords Of Dogtown (2005)
    Miss Congeniality 2: Armed & Fabulous (2005)
    Ladder 49 (2004)
    Walking Tall (2004)
    The Italian Job (2003)
    Moonlight Mile (2002)
    Contact (1997)
    Rush (1991)

    And in these TV series:

    Gotham ("A Dark Knight: The Sinking Ship the Grand Applause" - 2018)
    New Girl ("Prince" - 2014)
    Malcolm In The Middle ("The Bots And The Bees" - 2000)

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