Rap pioneer John “Ecstasy” Fletcher, of the seminal hip-hop trio Whodini, has reportedly died at the age of 56. Musician and drummer Questlove broke the news on Wednesday afternoon when he posted a fond farewell to the iconic rapper on Instagram.
“One love to Ecstasy of the legendary #Whodini,” he said. “This man was legendary and a pivotal member of one of the most legendary groups in hip hop. This is sad man.” Questlove did not cite a news source, but is well-connected in the music business and is usually among the first to react to news involving old-school rap heroes.
Formed in 1982, Whodini was one of the early hip-hop groups that emerged during the nascent genre’s initial explosion of well-known hits. Along with Jalil Hutchins and DJ Drew Carter (aka Grandmaster Dee), Fletcher’s foundational contributions to the culture included the hit records “Friends” and “Freaks Come Out at Night.” They were among the first groups to add R&B to their songs, as well as the first to release a music video, which was for their song “Magic’s Wand.” They also pioneered the incorporation of dancers to their live shows — dancers who would later go on to form the group UTFO.