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Big Bank Hank Dies: Sugarhill Gang's Hip Hop Rapper Was 57

By    |   Wednesday, 12 Nov 2014 09:11 AM

Big Bank Hank, the flamboyant voice of the Sugarhill Gang whose trailblazing hit "Rapper's Delight" ushered in the rap and hip hop era into the mainstream, died Tuesday, from complication due to cancer. He was 57.

Big Bank Hank, whose real name was Henry Jackson, died in Englewood, New Jersey, David Mallie, told CNN. Mallie manages the surviving two members of the Sugarhill Gang, "Wonder Mike" Wright and Guy "Master Gee" O'Brien.

"So sad to hear about our brother's passing," Wright and O'Brien said in a joint statement. "The three of us created musical history together with the release of 'Rapper's Delight.' We will always remember traveling the world together and rocking the house. Rest in peace Big Bank."

Rap and hip hop had been flourishing in urban neighborhoods New York City in the 1970s at block parties but had never moved farther than that until record producer Sylvia Robinson and her son Joey recruited Jackson, who was working at a pizza parlor, and joined Wright and O'Brien to formed the Sugarhill Gang, according to Rolling Stone magazine.

Sugarhill Gang's "Rapper's Delight" became the first rap song to reach the Billboard Top 40, leading the way for a slew of other of other rap artists to quickly follow, according to CNN.

"The Sugarhill Gang never topped a Billboard chart or enjoyed the same acclaim that 'Rapper's Delight' brought, but they did have a few other respectable hits like 'Apache,' 'Eighth Wonder,' 'Rapper's Reprise' and 'Showdown,'" reported Billboard magazine in 2011.

"Over twenty years later, The Sugarhill Gang is not only an important piece of music history for its chart and sale success, it is still one of the biggest party hip-hop anthems to date thanks to lyrics like 'throw your hands up in the air and party hardy like you just don't care.'"

Rolling Stone ranks "Rapper's Delight" No. 251 of its 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

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Big Bank Hank, the flamboyant voice of the Sugarhill Gang whose trailblazing hit "Rapper's Delight" ushered in the rap and hip hop era into the mainstream, died Tuesday, from complication due to cancer. He was 57.
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2014-11-12
Wednesday, 12 Nov 2014 09:11 AM
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