Play That Funky Music

Album: Wild Cherry (1976)
Charted: 7 1
  • songfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • 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: 28

  • Karbo from MonessenSo much goodness in this song, the riff, the horns, the vocals. All time classic that holds up now and forever. Simply brilliant
  • Markantney from BiloxeAug 18,
    I honestly can't definitely name a bigger song in "The Hood" than this jammin Song. I still play it to this day. That opening guitar riff and how Parissi and the drums come behind it OutFrickenStanding. And though it was out with Disco (which i also Love) it's not really a Disco Song,...it's Funk and Rock or Rock and Funk:):)
  • Yapishkahilt from North JerseyThe lyrics posted here are for a rapper's cover version of the song, not Wild Cherry's.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn 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).
  • John from Lancaster, Cato 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
  • N from San Diego, CaWhat was the bass guitar players name?
  • Budoshi from Sandnessjøen, NorwayI 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...
  • Theresa from Murfreesboro, TnThe best disco song ever! The hook is killer.
  • Billy from Nederland , TxProbably the best funky song of all time. PLAY THAT FUNKY MUSIC, WHITE BOY!
  • Bob from Las Vegas, NvThis is my theme song!
  • Dave from Liverpool, United KingdomThe 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"
  • Gigi Crawford from Columbus, GaI loved it then & I love it more now!!!This gets me pumped up for my workout.
  • Wayne from Crockett, TxIf this song doesn't get you moving, you're dead! You just gotta groove! Resistance is futile.
  • Andrew from Birmingham, United StatesThis 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!!
  • Musicmama from New York, NyI 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.
  • Mikey from Boston, MaThe Lyrics posted on this page are missing the second verse. "I tried to understand this, I thought that they were out of their minds . . . . "
  • Brian from Cleveland, OhThe 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.
  • Lisa from Delmont, PaDonny Iris, a Pittsburgh staple was a member of Wild Cherry as well as The Jaggerz and Donny Iris and the Cruisers.
  • Alf from Kingston, CanadaI 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 bad
  • Brandon from Peoria, IlI always thought this was done by KC and the Sunshine Band...heh, my bad.
  • Caitlin from Upper Township, NjLOVE IT!! Great dance song. It's played at all my family gatherings. I especially liked it when Taylor Hicks sang it on American Idol!!!
  • Dali from Dallas, TxIt also featured on "Undercover Brother"
  • Johnny from Los Angeles, CaI love this song! that's funny, billy
  • Billy from Otway, OhThere's A Country Version Called Play That Country Music,Cowboy. Don't Know the Artist,Though.
  • Brenda from Columbus, OhThis 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.
  • Allen from Dothan, AlThe group actually got their name from a box of cough drops.....Louden's Wild Cherry Cough Drops.
  • Cindy from Sydney, United StatesThis Song is SMOKING!
    {i love it}... it's cool for an old song.
  • Aj from Cleveland, GaThis was Wild Cherry's only hit
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