Ohio Untouchables / Robert Ward


Dayton, 1960 - 65, 1966-2001

The Ohio Untouchables were started by guitarist Robert Ward, who had moved to Dayton in 1960 from his home in Georgia. The first lineup of the band included Levoy Frederick on bass and Cornelius Johnson on drums. 

Early in his playing, Ward had obtained a Magnatone amp, which had an unique tremolo sound. It was this sound and his style that became one piece (with Lonnie Mack as the other main player) of the SW Ohio regional blues/rock guitar sound. Ward's influence is evident in dozens of local recordings of the early-mid 1960s. 

The Untouchables got their name from Ward who saw the popular TV show of that name and said he wanted to band to be so good they were 'untouchable'. Over the next year or so the band added Ralph "Pee Wee" Middlebrooks on alto sax (later  trumpet and trombone) - Middlebrook had been in Ward's previous band, the Brassettes, who were based in Georgia. Clarence Satchell joined on tenor sax, and Marshall Jones replaced Frederick on bass. 

The band played in the SW Ohio area and other chitlin circuit places in the area, and like many R&B artists of the day made their way to Detroit. At some point they came to the attention of Lu Pine records in Detroit and the Falcons, a local vocal group. They recorded a couple songs at King studio in Cincinnati. At the time, the Falcons included future legends Wilson Pickett and Eddie Floyd as well as Mack Rice, a fine singer himself but probably best known to the general public as the writer and original performer of "Mustang Sally". The A side of the 45, released as "the Falcons and Band",  was "I Found A Love" and it became a bit regional hit. 

The Untouchables also recorded a record with Benny McCain, who was not a member of the group, but brought together by Lupine.  During the same time, the group also recorded two 45s on Lupine with just the five current band members. Robert Ward was the singer on the Untouchables records. The three 45s all have a strong late R&B sound with Ward's Magnatone sound featured prominently.

In 1964, the group recorded three 45s for the Thelma label out of Detroit. The success of Motown brought out dozens of entrepeneurs who were hoping to be duplicate that success, and Thelma was one of the stronger ones.None of these records was much of a hit (they included a few previously released songs) but they are all quality records.

In 1965 Ward and the rest of the band had a split. Apparently there were often arguements about the direction and authority in the band and eventually it could not continue. While the other four members reformed as the Ohio Players with Leroy "Sugarfoot" Bonner as the guitarist, Robert Ward continued to perform on his own with various musicians. 

During the mid/late 1960s Ward did some session work in Detroit, and had one 45 released under his own name on another smaller Detroit label, Groove City. In 1994, Some of Ward's previously unreleased recordings from these sessions, and an unreleased Untouchables track, came out on a CD called "Hot Stuff" (the name of the Untouchables song). 

Robert Ward's career was sidelined in 1970s and 1980s - including a short stay in prison. He returned in 1990s, like many of the older R&B/Blues musicians, thanks to a new generation of fans who wanted the 'real deal'.  After making a few CDs, he was incapacitated by a stroke in 2001. He passed away in 2008. 

Clarence Satchell, Conelius Johnson, and Levoy Frederick are deceased.

Discography

I Found A Love / Swim - Lu Pine 103 (as Falcons and Band - Ohio Untouchables)
What To Do / She's My Heart's Desire - Lu Pine 1009 (as Benny McCain and the Ohio Untouchables)
Love Is Amazing / Forgive Me Darling - Lu Pine 1010 (as the Ohio Untouchables)
I'm Tired / Up Town - Lu Pine 116/7 or 1011 (as the Ohio Untouchables)
Nobody Does Something For Nothing / Your Love Is Real - Thelma 601 (as Robert Ward and the Ohio Untouchables)
Your Love Is Real / I'm Gonna Cry A River - Thelma 602 (as Robert Ward and the Ohio Untouchables)
My Love Is Strictly Reserved For You / I Will Fear No Evil - Groove City 201 (as Robert Ward)