The Sugarhill Gang are believed to have recorded the first ever hip-hop single.
Big Bank Hank, a founding member of the pioneering rap outfit Sugarhill Gang, has died from cancer aged 58. The group's manager David Mallie and other members Wonder Mike and Master Gee confirmed the rapper's death to Rolling Stone, confirming that Hank passed away on Tuesday (November 11, 2014).
The Sugarhill Gang at the VH1 Hip Hop Honours in 2008
Born Henry Jackson, Hank was the most prominent voice on the group's classic single Rapper's Delight.
"So sad to hear about our brothers passing," his bandmates Wonder Mike and Master Gee said in a 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."
Many commentators still suggest that the timeless single was technically the first hip-hop song ever recorded, though there is a separate debate as to the group's apparent 'borrowing' from Grandmaster Caz's rhyme book. Nevertheless, the single sold millions through Sugar Hill Records despite never being officially certified.
The Sugarhill Gang continued to enjoy success throughout the early 1980s, most notably with '8th Wonder' and 'Apache' - still a staple at sporting events across the world.
Unfortunately, Jackson became estranged from the other two members of the group following their disbanding in 1985. Hank continued using the group's names and he and Joey Robinson performed at the BET Awards in 2011.
"I see groups that are hot one minute and next time you see them they're asking if you want a soda with that Happy Meal," Hank told Maryland's Herald-Mail in 2013. "We've had the ability to transcend generations and that's a gift. That's a blessing and I'm grateful for that."