Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Claim: The Ohio Players' recording of the song "Love Rollercoaster" includes the scream of a murdered woman.
The rumors that postulated the scream was a real one taken from an external source (a psychiatric hospital or 911 emergency tape) were the more plausible ones. Other explanations had the band recording in an apartment building (where a woman was conveniently murdered next door), microphones picking up the scream from a violent crime committed outside the recording studio (so much for that "soundproof studio" idea), or a band member stabbing his girlfriend (or a cleaning woman) to death in the studio as the tape rolled (presumably hoping to be the first person to simultaneously hit #1 on both the Billboard singles chart and the FBI's Most Wanted list).
The most outrageous rumor had to do with the cover of the album on which "Love Rollercoaster" appeared. Entitled Honey, the album's daring (for its time) outer cover featured a nude Playboy model lapping honey from a jar with a clear plastic spoon, while the inner gatefold sleeve pictured her covered with the sticky golden liquid.
According to the legend, the model was horribly burned by the honey (because it was heated to make it flow more freely) or suffered excruciating pain when it was removed (because it was actually a form of liquid plastic that took huge chunks of her skin
In truth, the scream in question does seem a bit out of place: it's a feminine voice amidst a group of male singers, it's buried low in the mix, and it does sound like the cry of a woman in terror rather than that of a "thrilled-to-be-scared" amusement park customer. It's not hard to imagine how easily people receptive to rumor could be convinced that this sound didn't belong on the track, but had inadvertently slipped in.
The real source of the scream — and the origins of the rumor — were explained by Ohio Player Jimmy "Diamond" Williams:
There is a part in the song where there's a breakdown. It's guitars and it's right before the second verse and Billy Beck does one of those inhaling-type screeches like Minnie Ripperton did to reach her high note or Mariah Carey does to go octaves above. The DJ made this crack and it swept the country. People were asking us, 'Did you kill this chick in the studio?' The band took a vow of silence because that makes you sell more records."As Mr. Williams suggests, mystery and scandal is good for record sales and radio play, so why ruin a good thing by 'fessing up to the truth? Instead, take a "vow of silence" and watch the money roll in.
Additional Information: Listen to the "scream" at the beginning of this audio clip from "Love Rollercoaster":
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