Iconic Hip-hop Drummer, Keith Leblanc, Passes Away At 70

Keith LeBlanc, a trailblazing drummer who collaborated with artists such as Grandmaster Flash and the Sugarhill Gang, retired from his mortal coil at the age of 70. The musician reportedly battled an unidentified disease before passing away on Thursday, April 5, according to Variety.

LeBlanc was the house band for the innovative record labels Sugar Hill Records and Tommy Boy Records, along with guitarist Skip McDonald and bassist Doug Wimbish. Many significant early Hip Hop records, such as the Sugarhill Gang’s “Apache (Jump On It,” Grandmaster Flash and Melle Mel’s “White Lines (Don’t Do It),” the Funky Four+1’s “That’s the Joint,” and many more, included drums played by LeBlanc.

One of the earliest notable sample-based songs was “No Sell Out,” a 1983 underground smash by LeBlanc. All of the revenues from the song were donated to Malcolm X’s family, and the tune featured Malcolm X’s voice over LeBlanc’s music. Over the course of his decades-long career, the Connecticut native has also worked as a producer, session musician, and member of the bands Little Axe and Tackhead. Furthermore, he put out six solo albums.

But Keith LeBlanc’s narrative doesn’t end here. Hip Hop historian Jay Quan is currently producing a documentary on his life and career, which, as previously mentioned, featured a lot of work with the Sugarhill Gang.

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