Keith LeBlanc, Drummer on Grandmaster Flash and Sugarhill Gang Songs, Dies at 69

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Keith LeBlanc, the Tackhead drummer, producer, and session musician greatest identified for his work on traditional hip-hop songs by Grandmaster Flash and Sugarhill Gang, died on Thursday (April 4) attributable to an undisclosed sickness, his spouse, Fran LeBlanc, informed Selection. He was 69.

“All of us at On-U Sound are heartbroken to share the information that the good Keith LeBlanc has handed away,” his longtime label wrote in an obituary. “His writing and manufacturing expertise have been utilised by Residing Color, Peter Gabriel, The Remedy, Ministry, and 9 Inch Nails. As a drummer/programmer he labored with everybody from James Brown to Trevor Horn, Seal to R.E.M., The Rolling Stones, Jalal (Final Poets), The Stone Roses, Robert Palmer, Bomb The Bass, Annie Lennox, Tina Turner, Bryan Ferry, Depeche Mode and Sinead O’Connor…. An unbelievable drummer, producer and musical maverick, he will likely be massively missed. Relaxation in energy Keith.”

Born in 1954 in Bristol, Connecticut, LeBlanc gravitated in direction of drumming after finding out Ringo Starr throughout one of many Beatles’ TV performances. LeBlanc moved from the follow pad at house to a correct drum package in his college’s orchestra, and carried out his first present at a membership when he was 14.

Within the Nineteen Seventies, LeBlanc auditioned to switch his outgoing pal, Harold Sargent, in the home band at Sugar Hill Information. LeBlanc landed the gig and stayed in the home band till 1982, enjoying reside drums on hip-hop songs that gave them a pointy groove: Sugarhill Gang’s “Apache,” “eighth Marvel,” and their 1980 self-titled album; Grandmaster Flash and the Livid 5’s “It’s Nasty” and The Message; and extra by the likes of Kool Moe Dee & the Treacherous 3, the Crash Crew, and the Funky 4+1. His model helped Sugar Hill songs stand out at a time when digital drumming dominated.

LeBlanc landed his personal unbiased hit in 1983 with “No Promote Out,” one of many first songs to combine samples. The monitor, on which LeBlanc additionally used synthesizers and a drum machine, hit No. 60 on the UK singles chart. The only, which prominently options Malcolm X’s voice, was devoted to the late activist, with all proceeds going to his household.

When LeBlanc met British producer Adrian Sherwood within the early Eighties, the 2 teamed up with LeBlanc’s former Sugar Hill collaborators bassist Doug Wimbish and guitarist Skip McDonald to kind the economic hip-hop band Tackhead. Collectively, they churned out dozens of data for On-U Sound, together with 1988’s Tackhead Tape Time and 1989’s Pleasant as a Hand Grenade. Although Tackhead broke up within the Nineties, they reunited to document the 2014 album For the Love of Cash and hit the street for excursions in 2004 and 2022.

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