The "Love Rollercoaster" Scream

From the Urban Legends Mailbag

The Ohio Players
The Ohio Players. Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Dear Urban Legends:

I have heard that in the original recording of the song "Roller Coaster" (I don't remember who sang it) there was a scream in the song. According to legend, it was that of someone being killed. Heard anything like this???

Dear Reader:

That would be "Love Rollercoaster," a dance track from the Ohio Players' 1975 album Honey. There is, in fact, a clearly audible blood-curdling scream between the first and second verses of the recording, but explanations of what it is and how it got there vary.

The way I heard it, the scream is that of the woman who modeled for the album cover art. Why did she scream? Because her flesh was torn off when the acrylic substance ladled over her naked body to make it look like she was dripping with honey was clumsily removed by crew members. That's what I heard.

The "Love Rollercoaster" scream is mentioned in the phenomenally bad (though extremely popular) 1998 horror film ​Urban Legend, in which a character claims it was that of a cleaning woman stabbed to death in some dark corner of the recording studio where the Players were cutting the record.

Neither story sounds terribly plausible. In point of fact, we have it on good authority — that of Ohio Player Jimmy "Diamond" Williams — that the scream actually issued from the throat of band member Billy Beck, who was just trying to add a little oomph to the vocal track (as quoted by David Mikkelson, Urban Legends Reference Pages).

Williams attributes the origin of the murder legend to an unnamed disc jockey in some unnamed town who basically made it up out of whole cloth, but admits that once the lie "swept the country," the band adopted a policy of not commenting on it, "because that makes you sell more records."

The song was reissued in 1998 as part of the soundtrack of Urban Legend.