BRUCE SHIPKOWSKI, Associated Press
MESFIN FEKADU, Associated Press
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Big Bank Hank, a member of the pioneering hip-hop group the Sugarhill Gang responsible for one of the most popular rap songs of all time, “Rapper’s Delight,” has died of complications of cancer at age 57.
He died Tuesday at a hospital in Englewood, according to David Mallie, a business manager for two former members of the group, and Aree Booker, a funeral director with Eternity Funeral Services.
Big Bank Hank, whose real name was Henry Jackson, was born in the Bronx borough of New York. He was a part of the Sugarhill Gang in 1979 when it had hip-hop’s first hit with “Rapper’s Delight.” The song was released as hip-hop music started to emerge as a genre, and it landed in the Top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. It also peaked at No. 4 on the Hot Soul Singles chart, now called the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.
The Sugarhill Gang, which was formed in Englewood, also included Master Gee and Wonder Mike.
“So sad to hear about our brothers passing,” Gee and Mike said in a statement issued through Mallie, who didn’t work with Big Bank Hank. “The 3 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.”
“Rapper’s Delight” became a success thanks to the late Sylvia Robinson, the record label owner who released it on her Sugar Hill Records. Robinson, who was known as the Mother of Hip-Hop, died in 2011.
After “Rapper’s Delight,” the trio had minor successes with songs such as “Apache” and “8th Wonder” but faded away. Their last album was a 1999 children’s rap album, “Jump On It!”
Gee and Mike currently perform under the name Rapper’s Delight Experience featuring Wonder Mike and Master Gee, Mallie said. Robinson’s son owns the Sugarhill Gang trademark, and Gee and Mike haven’t been able to perform under the name since 2010, he said.
Gee and Mike were on good terms with Big Bank Hank before he died, Mallie said.
Fekadu reported from New York.
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