Local Current Blog

Today’s Music News: Big Bank Hank of the Sugarhill Gang dies at 57

According to TMZ, rapper Big Bank Hank (Henry Jackson) of the Sugarhill Gang has died at 57, reportedly due to cancer. The Sugarhill Gang—whose original lineup comprised Big Bank Hank, Wonder Mike, and Master G, were the first hip-hop group to cross over to mainstream popularity, and their 1979 hit “Rapper’s Delight” marked the unmistakable arrival of the new genre in popular culture. (Billboard) Remarkably, the whole song was recorded in a single take. (NPR)

The Sugarhill Gang were better known for fun, lighthearted numbers than for tough tales of urban struggle—but the latter kind of songs can be beneficial to mental health, argue two Cambridge University researchers in a recently published article. Listening to any of the genre’s many songs of uplift in the face of adversity can “help patients with depression to create more positive images of themselves, their situations and their future.” (The Telegraph)

Last night in Washington D.C., an all-star “Concert for Valor” paid tribute to veterans. Though the show overall went over well, Bruce Springsteen came in for criticism by some observers for choosing to perform a cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival‘s Vietnam-War-era song “Fortunate Son” with Zac Brown and Dave Grohl. With lines like “I ain’t no military son” and “Some folks inherit star-spangled eyes/ they send you down to war,” the song was seen by some as, to quote the Weekly Standard, “an anti-war screed” out of keeping with the spirit of the event. (Washington Post)

Stevie Wonder will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the White House on Nov. 24, along with Broadway composer Stephen Sondheim and luminaries from other fields—including Meryl Streep and Alvin Ailey. (Billboard)

On Jimmy Kimmel’s show Monday night, Spandau Ballet made their first American TV appearance in 29 years, and they didn’t hold out on the hits, performing Sixteen Candles classic “True” in addition to their new single “This is the Love.”

No stranger to controversy, Eminem is in it again. In a cypher (rap circle, typically improvised) promoting a new Shady Records compilation, amidst mentions of pico de gallo and Build-a-Bear, Eminem rapped the lines, “I’ll punch Lana Del Rey right in the face twice, like Ray Rice in broad daylight in the plain sight of the elevator surveillance/ Till her head is banging on the railing, then celebrate with the Ravens.” This despite the fact that Del Rey has declared, “I f—ing love Eminem.” (Billboard)

“This is my gift to music,” says Garth Brooks about Ghost Tunes, his new digital music distribution service—styling itself as artist-friendly with an 80-20 revenue split—that officially launched yesterday. (Billboard) Read Jill Riley’s review of one of Brooks’s recent Minneapolis shows.

Bret Michaels is facing serious health problems. The Poison frontman, 51, has been hospitalized six times in the past two weeks, has had kidney surgery, and has had two stents inserted. Despite these health challenges, Michaels continues to insist on performing. After a recent show, his guitarist Pete Evick said on Facebook, matters took a severe turn. “During the show he gave 100 percent, but he hurt himself. Jumping around with two stents was a bad idea. I can’t explain the amount of blood or where it came from, but it was horrifying on his bus after the show.” (ABC)

The latest addition to Taylor Swift‘s busy 2014 schedule is a gig opening for Santa: she’ll perform at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. (Billboard)

Listen to the Morning Show’s music news roundup on the Current every weekday at 9:00 a.m. to hear our hosts discuss the latest music news.