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R.I.P. Big Bank Hank of the Sugarhill Gang

Big Bank Hank, one-third of the trailblazing rap group The Sugarhill Gang, has died after a battle with cancer. He was 57.

Born Henry Jackson, Big Bank Hank got into hip-hop in the late ’70s, when he went from working the door at a Bronx nightclub called The Sparkle to managing Grandmaster Caz and The Mighty Force MCs. Jackson was discovered as a rapper while he was working at a Crispy Crust pizzeria, where a customer, Sylvia Robinson, heard him rapping over some of Caz’s Cold Crush Brothers beats. Robinson asked him to join the group she was forming, he in turn asked Grandmaster Caz for some more beats, and thus Sugarhill Gang was formed.

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The group’s biggest hit, “Rapper’s Delight,” hit the pop charts in 1979, making Sugarhill Gang the first hip-hop act to land a crossover single. Jackson is best known for his “super sperm” contribution to the track, as well as the “ho-tel, mo-tel, Holiday Inn” bit, a turn of phrase that has since become synonymous with both the song and with rap in general.

Wonder Mike and Master Gee, the other two-thirds of Sugarhill Gang, told TMZ they’re “sad to hear of our brother’s passing.”

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