Ohio Untouchables

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Blues-soul group led by guitarist Robert Ward recorded a slew of collector's items singles on Lupine in the 1960s.
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Born October 15, 1938 in Luthersville, GA, guitarist, Robert Ward played with bands in the South before moving to Dayton, and had even served a military stint. He formed the Ohio Untouchables in Dayton, OH, in 1960. The members bounced in and out with the most stable lineup being Ward (guitar, vocals), Clarence "Satch" Satchell (sax), Ralph "Pee Wee" Middlebrooks (sax, trumpet), Marshall "Rock" Jones (bass), and Cornelius Johnson (drums). They were the house band at Club 51, on Germantown Rd., 15-year-old David Thomas, from nearby Hamilton, OH, often sang with the band. Ward's brother moved to Dayton and filled in on drums at times, but he and Ward had a tumultuous relationship, and baby brother flew the coop. Ward used plenty of vibrato and tremolo when he played his axe through a Magnatone amplifier; he stuck coins all over his guitar, which may have contributed to his trembling guitar notes. A relative, (Robert West) owned Lupine Records in Detroit, so the band traveled there and signed with Lupine in 1962. Their first assignment was backing 19-year-old Wilson Pickett, the lead singer of the Falcons. But the other Falcons never made the session, so they accompanied Pickett musically and vocally. David Thomas, along for the ride, contributed vocals to "I Found a Love," and "Swim." As the Ohio Untouchables they recorded three bluesy singles for Lupine: the soulful "Forgive Me Darling," "I'm Tired," and "Your Love Is Amazing." They cut two singles for Thelma Records as Robert Ward & the Ohio Untouchables: "Your Love Is Real" and "I'm Gonna Cry Me a River." Other recordings on even smaller labels, include "You're Oo Top" -- the same song the O'Jays recorded for Imperial Records. Ward left in 1965, and Leroy "Sugarfoot" Bonner took his place; the lineup now was Sugarfoot (guitar), Pee Wee (trumpet), Rock (bass), Satch (sax), Gary Webster (drums), Joe Harris (vocals), Bobby Lee Fears (vocals), and Dutch Robinson (vocals). Harris had sung with the Fabulous Peps, but found a home as the lead singer with Undisputed Truth. A move to New York help them secure a gig as the house band for Compass Records. The Untouchables became the Players in 1968, recording First Impressions, and Observations in Time. They went on to cut critically acclaimed albums for Westbound Records, before achieving international success on the Mercury label. Ward influenced a flood of Detroit singers including Steve Mancha, Joe Stubbs, Darrell Banks, Melvin Davis, and J.J. Barnes. Fashioning himself a pimp, Ward was a nefarious character whose long absence from music was caused by a lengthy prison sentence. He's recorded a handful of solo albums for Black Top Records, and updates many of the Ohio Untouchables' Lupine, Thelma, and Groove City recordings on two of them: Man from Twigg County and Fear No Evil.