One-hit wonders Wild Cherry was led by Rob Parissi (singer, guitarist, songwriter), who originally formed the group in 1970. Influenced by the likes of the Yardbirds and Sly & the Family Stone (and named after a flavor of cough drops), the group played around their hometown of Pittsburgh, PA, and even inked a recording contract with Brown Bag Records (led by former Grand Funk Railroad manager Terry Knight). But the group never issued any albums for the label and split up in 1975. Understandably dejected, Parissi turned his back entirely on music, selling all the band's equipment and for a while, managing a local steakhouse. But it wasn't long before Parissi's interest in music returned and he formed a new version of Wild Cherry with a whole new lineup, including Mark Ausec (keyboards), Bryan Bassett (guitar), Allen Wentz (bass), and Ronald Beitle (drums).
The group was still mostly rock-based and with the public's attention shifting to more dance-oriented styles (namely disco), the group was accosted nightly between sets by fans who wanted them to "Play that funky music." It wasn't long before Parissi took heed and penned a song under the same title, an infectious ditty that merged funk and rock together. The quintet entered a studio shortly thereafter to record the track (although they felt that a cover of the Commodores song "I Feel Sanctified" stood more of a chance of becoming a hit). A friend of an engineer at the studio overheard the track, eventually bringing it to the attention of Epic Records, which in turn signed the group.
(Bio found at http://www.allmusic.com/artist/wild-cherry-mn0000256974/biography)