Big Bank Hank, a member of the pioneering hip-hop group the Sugarhill Gang, has died, according to Aree Booker, a funeral director with Eternity Funeral Services in Englewood, New Jersey. He was 57.
Booker didn't specify the cause of death, but said the rapper died Tuesday and that his funeral home would handle the services.
Big Bank Hank, whose real name was Henry Jackson, was a part of the Sugarhill Gang in 1979 when the band had hip-hop's first hit with "Rapper's Delight." It is one of the most recognized and popular rap songs of all time.
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"Rapper's Delight" 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 also included Master Gee and Wonder Mike. The group formed in Englewood, New Jersey.
After "Rapper's Delight," the trio had minor successes with songs such as "Apache" and "8th Wonder," but faded away. Their last album was the 1999 children's rap album, "Jump On It!"
"Rapper's Delight" became a success thanks to the late Sylvia Robinson, the record label owner who released the song on her Sugar Hill Records. She was known as "the mother of hip-hop" and died in 2011.