Sun was an American soul-funk band from Dayton, Ohio, that released seven albums on Capitol between 1976 and 1982, followed by an eighth and final longplayer on Air City Records in 1984.

Members: John Wagner (trumpet), Chris Jones (vocals, keyboards, trumpet), Byron M. Byrd (tenor saxophone), Dean Hummons (organ), Hollis Melson (bass), Kym Yancey (drums), Shawn Sandridge (vocals, guitar), Bruce Hastell (guitar), Gary King (trombone, vocals), Ernie Knisley (percussion, trumpet), Keith Cheatham (guitar), Sheldon Reynolds (guitar), Anthony Thompson (guitar), Don Taylor (bass), Curtis Hooks (bass), Dean Francis (keyboards), Sonnie Talbert (keyboards), Larry Hatchett (horns), Nigel Boulton (horns), Robert Arnold (horns)

Sun was the brainchild of saxophonist Byron Byrd, a science and engineering major who initially aspired to a career in aerospace. As a side pursuit, he headed the early ’70s Dayton R&B band Ohio Majestics, which morphed into Over Night Low.

The former opened locally for The O’Jays and The Spinners. Two Majestics, drummer James “Diamond” Williams and brass player Marvin “Merv” Pierce, joined the Ohio Players for their Mercury run, starting in 1974. A third, guitarist Clarence “Chet” Willis, surfaced in the Players’ late-’70s lineup and also played with Faze-O. Williams and Willis, who both followed Byrd into Over Night Low, later formed the Players spinoff trio Shadow.

As Over Night Low, Byrd’s band cut the single “The Witch Doctor (Catches “Jungle Fever”)” (b/w “Rev. Jay”) for the east coast DeLuxe label. They following year, they issued “To Be or Not to Be” (b/w “Get to Your Soul”) on Chess. One night in 1974, they opened for Mandrill at the Ohio Theatre in Columbus, where they impressed the headliner’s producer Beau Ray Fleming, who also worked with Jon Lucien and Zulema. He took the unsigned act under his wing.

Given his aerospace background, Byrd wanted a band name with a more cosmic vibe. Fleming suggested Celestial Sun, which trumpeter John Wagner found too wordy. Wagner, in turn, propose the monosyllabic Sun. To their surprise, it was not currently in use by any signed stateside act (though it had been used earlier by an Australian jazz-rock-soul band).

In late 1975, the newly named Sun cut a deal with Capitol Records, secured by record producer Larkin Arnold (Tavares, Sylvers, Nancy Wilson, Barbara Acklin).


  • Live On, Dream On [aka Wanna Make Love] (1976)
  • Sun Power (1977)
  • Sunburn (1978)
  • Destination Sun (1979)
  • Sun Over the Universe (1980)
  • Sun: Force of Nature (1981)
  • Let There Be Sun (1982)
  • Eclipse (1984)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *