Monday, January 24, 2005

The Players Take You for a Ride

Twenty-nine years ago this week, the Ohio Players' "Love Rollercoaster" was climbing the charts on its way to Number One, and when I heard it again the other day I was reminded of an enduring urban legend about the record--that it contains the scream of a woman being murdered.

There is, in fact, a scream. You can hear it during the instrumental break between the first and second verses. There are several versions purporting to explain how the scream got there: that the song was being recorded in a hotel room and the murder happened next door, or that the murder happened in the studio, or (most grotesque of all) the screamer was the honey-covered model on the Ohio Players' album Honey, only, dude, it wasn't honey, it was superglue, and when she came to the studio to complain, they like totally pulled it off her and her skin came with it and that's why she's screaming.

The tale was featured in the movie Urban Legend a few years ago, which gave it staying power for the new millennium. But it isn't a true story. Although the group members kept quiet about it for years after the story began to circulate, the source of the scream was just one of them trying out an extra-high screech. The indispensable has the real story, and an audio clip.

There's no need to invent a wild tale to account for the scream on the record, really. The song's about riding a rollercoaster, right? And what do people do on rollercoasters?

Dude, they die!


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