The band's Top 40 hit "Rapper's Delight" was recorded in 1979 and is regarded by some as the first recorded hip-hop song, in contention with "King Tim II (Personality Jock)," by the Fatback Band. The three young men from Philadelphia capitalized off a music style created in the streets of New York City when they recorded their only hit. Early hip-hop was easy to listen to, extremely catchy and most important, it lacked profanity and degrading lyrics that are mainstays in hip-hop today.
Two of original gang, Wonder Mike (Michael Wright) and Master Gee (Guy O'Brien), and newcomer Henry "Big Hen" Williams -- who is replacing Big Bank Hank (Henry Jackson) -- will be performing on the anniversary tour.
"Rapper's Delight" achieved national and global success, successfully transitioning '70s disco to an infant genre called hip-hop, despite music critics' predictions that the genre wouldn't survive. Not only did it survive, it soon opened doors to other rappers, including Grandmaster Flash.
I remember the Top 40 station the Mighty 690 AM playing "Rapper's Delight" on the air -- it was the one of the most requested songs. At the Palisades skating rink, I would wear my parachute pants and, only when that song came on, I would unzip the bottom portion to reveal the teal color inside and skate my heart out. My record was heavily scratched because my friends and I played the song until it was memorized. I was always Wonder Mike (yes, we pretended we were the Sugarhill Gang).
The Sugarhill Gang, Futyle, Mr. Dubie, D. Fresh, D. Krew and U.T.A. will perform at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at the Ramona Mainstage in Ramona. Tickets are $22.