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Obituaries: Ohio Players Founder, "No Woman, No Cry" Songwriter

January 5, 2009 12:05 PM ET

The Ohio Players founder Robert Ward passed away on Christmas Day at his home in Georgia. He was 70. Ward, a noteworthy blues guitarist, is credited with forming the Ohio Untouchables, who later changed their name to the Ohio Players after Ward left the band in 1965. Without Ward, the group went on to become one of the biggest funk-soul bands of the '70s, penning hits like "Love Rollercoaster" and "Fire." Ward, who had some hits of his own like "I Found A Love" with the Untouchables roster, pursued a solo career that spawned four solo albums and a stint as a Motown Records session musician.

The music world also lost Vincent Ford, the credited songwriter of Bob Marley's 1974 hit "No Woman, No Cry." Ford, who suffered from diabetes, died of complications from the disease on December 28th in Jamaica at age 68. Ford was a friend of Marley's who ran a soup kitchen in "Trenchtown," or Kingston, Jamaica. "No Woman, No Cry" became a major hit for the reggae star after it first appeared on Marley's Natty Dread. Rolling Stone ranked "No Woman, No Cry" as Number 37 on the list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Ford was also credited with penning three songs on Marley's 1976 album Rastaman Vibration. Although many credit Marley with actually writing the song, with the royalties Ford received from the long-lasting success (and non-stop covers and samples) of "No Woman, No Cry," Ford reportedly used the money to ensure that his soup kitchen would stay open.

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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