Local R&B, funk musician, singer John Wagner dies at 71

DAYTON — A local R&B and funk musician and singer has died.

John Wagner died on May 5, 2024. He was 71 years old.

Wagner, born April 18, 1953, performed musically at church and through school, according to his obituary.

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He was active in multiple music activities offered at Dayton’s Roosevelt High School.

Wagner got his start in the era of R&B and funk music in the 1970s as a vocalist and trumpet player performing with the Ohio Majestics.

The Ohio Majestics’ hit “To Be or Not To Be” featured Wagner on the trumpet. Later, the Majestics evolved into the Overnight Low Show Band and toured extensively throughout the Midwest.

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The group then became the band Sun who recorded for Capitol Records, opened for Earth Wind & Fire, appeared on Soul Train, and toured coast to coast playing to sold-out venues.

Wagner was cited as lead trumpeter, vocalist, and songwriter.

In Dayton, Wagner spent many years on the Dayton Jazz scene, performing for crowds in local clubs such as Shades of Ruby, Southside Johnny’s, the Bistro at L’auberge, and L’Monde at Café Boulevard. He also served as a host and feature performer at Jazz Central for decades.

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Wagner was preceded in death by his parents Donald Wagner and Patricia Bowens, and brother Donald Jr. He is survived by his wife, Rexann; daughters Christina (Damien) Sturdivant and Charaya Wagner; grandchildren Damien (DJ) and Daphne Sturdivant; mother of his children and close friend, Waverly Wagner; sisters Rebecca Wagner and Khalilah (Jon) Main; bonus son Jeffrey (Melanie) Beverly; bonus granddaughter Da’Veya Thomas; bonus great-grandson DaWalt Thomas, along with many nieces, nephews, and friends.

Wagner’s funeral services will be held at 1:00 pm on Tuesday, May 21 at Schaffer Funeral Home in Defiance.

Those who wish to make a memorial gift may do so to the organization of their choosing. Online condolences can be given at www.Schafferfh.com.

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