Rap artist BIG HANK BANK (born Henry Jackson) died on November 11th. A member of the legendary SUGARHILL GANG, he was just 57. David Mallie, who manages the group’s two remaining living members, reported that Jackson died from kidney complications due to cancer. He confirmed the news, saying that he had seen Hank “several times” over the last several years and that his health had been declining as he went through chemotherapy and dialysis treatments.
Sylvia Robinson, founder of Sugar Hill Records, brought together the Englewood, N.J.-based trio of Big Bank Hank, Wonder Mike and Master Gee in 1979 for the label’s debut record. The song, ‘Rapper’s Delight’ capitalized on the then growing trend of hip-hop and sampling. In doing so, what began as a novelty song, with the catchphrase “hip hop and you don’t stop” and lyrics chanted over a repetitive bass-line (from Chic’s ‘Good Times’), gave rise to a music genre that has since won the affections and allegiance of millions worldwide. Testimony is the fact that middle-aged people all over the world can remember and recite the words off by heart!
Hank’s fellow Sugarhill Gang members, Michael “Wonder Mike” Wright and Guy O’Brien (“Master Gee”) posted this message today: “So sad to hear about our brother’s passing. The three of us created musical history together with the release of ‘Rapper’s Delight’. We will always remember travelling the world together and rocking the house. Rest in peace Big Bank.”
The web site www.HipHopWired.com posted that ‘Rapper’s Delight’ “wasn’t just a catchy hit song. It was “THE song that is considered the moment that hip-hop became commercially viable”.”