Founding Whodini member John Ecstasy Fletcher has passed away at the age of 56, according to his groupmate Grandmaster Dee. A cause of death has not been announced, but hip hop artist Questlove posted a tribute to the performer on Instagram following Fletcher’s passing.
Fletcher, along with his Whodini bandmates Jalil Hutchins and turntablist/DJ Drew Carter, a.k.a. Grandmaster Dee, were part of the first wave of hip hop that appeared in New York during the early 1980s. The group are also notable for helping lay the foundation for new jack swing, as they were one of the first outfits to bring over R&B elements into hip hop. Their song “Freaks Come Out At Night” highlights their musical blends, as it takes hard electro style synths, atop an infectious funk beat and old school rapping style.
While Fletcher wasn’t the group’s main songwriter, he was notable due to his trademark Zorro-style hat, which he wore in photoshoots, videos and live appearances. The group were also included in one of the first major hip hop tours in the United States, Fresh Fest, where they accompanied the likes of Run-D.M.C. and Kurtis Blow in 1984.
Whodini released six studio albums during their career, with their latest record Six seeing its release in 1996. Following this release the group toured occasionally, but they have also gained notoriety for being sample sources for performers such as Nas, Master P, the late Prodigy and MF Doom.
“One Love to Ecstasy of the Legendary #Whodini. This man was legendary and a pivotal member of one of the most legendary groups in hip hop. This is sad man,” Questlove wrote on Instagram.
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