Osiris Marsh poses for a portrait in the auditorium at Eastern Senior High School in Washington, DC.
Reginald Marsh began singing bass in junior high school when he joined a vocal group called The Romantics. At Eastern Senior High School, which was a Freedom School at the time, Marsh hooked up with Alonzo Hart, Wardell Everett, John Graham, Clyde Burr, Charles Blagmon, and Bernard Ford, forming the vocal group, The Stridells. It was at Eastern that Marsh adopted the name “Osiris,” the Egyptian god of the afterlife.
After the release of two singles, “Mix It Up” in 1968—produced by Max Kidd—and “The Power To Dream” in 1969, The Stridells began to diverge musically and soon split up. Marsh transitioned to lead singer when he briefly joined another Eastern Senior High School vocal group, The Deacons.
In 1975 Marsh teamed up with George Parker—later of Special Delivery—Ronnie Martin, and Willa Peters, and formed Destiny. They recorded one single, Faith Hope & Charity’s “So Much Love,” on RCA Records, produced by Van McCoy.
The Family was Marsh’s next project, with Tyrone Brunson, William Eugene Jackson, Reginald Walter McNair, and Maceo Bond. The Family put out one LP, “Music-Let It Thru,” in 1977 on Little City Records. The Family’s sound was pure funk, with Marsh’s raspy, bass vocals on lead.
Marsh left The Family to form his eponymous funk band, Osiris, bringing in Bond and Brunson, and other members including Tony Jones, Jimmy “Sha-Sha” Stapleton, Ron Holloway, Kevin Nelson, Jills Wells, Brent Mingle, Andy Neman, Kenny Jones, Jerome Bailey, Keith Stucky, and Waymen McCoy. Osiris released their debut LP, “Since Before Our Time,” in 1978 on TomDog Records in 1978. Warner Bros. Records, redistributed the album and released the single “Consistency,” which reached #77 on the Billboard Hot 100 R&B charts.
Osiris released a follow-up, “O-Zone” on Marlin Records in 1979, recorded with the Horny Horns’ Fred Wesley, Maceo Parker, Richard “Kush” Griffith, and Rick Gardner. The LP’s song, “Grit On It” received significant airplay in Washington, DC. In 1981 the band released their self-titled third LP on TomDog Records. They issued one more, “War On The Bullshit,” in 1986 before separating.
Marsh himself has never left music. He still records periodically, but spends more producing music, especially for R&B vocal groups Nu-Era and Trilogy III, which are comprised of his eight sons. The two groups have recorded together as Strait 8 with Layzie Bone of Bone-Thugs-n-Harmony.
Marsh’s commitment to music may derive from coming of age in an era when Washington, DC was full of bands, singers, and vocal groups.
“It was really an inspiring vehicle to a lot of young people,” says Marsh. “It moved a lot of people and made people feel good…it was a way for people to move forward with their lives.”
Thanks to Grover Massenburg for the assist.