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Known for his Zorro hat and helping lay the foundation for the new jack swing, John ‘Ecstasy’ Fletcher has passed at the age of 56.
Fletcher co-founded Whodini alongside Jalil Hutchins in 1982 — four years prior to when the hip-hop duo transformed into a trio with the help of DJ Grandmaster Dee.
The Brooklyn-based rapper’s death was announced Wednesday by Questlove who took to Instagram to share just how important his impact was to the hip-hop community.
“One Love to Ecstasy of the Legendary #Whodini,” he wrote. “This man was legendary and a pivotal member of one of the most legendary groups in hip hop. This is sad man.”
Although no cause of death has been announced, TMZ reports that Fletcher’s twin brother, Douglas Fletcher, states that his death was unexpected as he was healthy, athletic, and regularly went to the gym. Additionally adding that “he was awake Wednesday morning and talking to people, but all of a sudden he just stopped breathing.”
“John ‘Ecstasy’ Fletcher was a beloved man, the life partner to Deltonia and ex-husband to Carla, twin brother to Joseph, artist, friend, and lifetime performing partner to the Legendary Jalil of Whodini,” his family shared in a statement to Billboard. “Whodini set a hip-hop course of legendary status that we are all sure to pass on to our grandchildren.”
When their first single, “Magic’s Wand,” was released in 1982, it became the first rap song to feature an accompanying video. And due to his signature hat, Fletcher became one of rap’s first sex symbols.
Managed by Russell Simmons, Whodini was one of the earliest acts to combine rap with rock which later went on to influence the New Jack Swing sound.
His death has not gone unnoticed by the music industry as several are remembering the legacy he left:
We’re keeping John Fletcher’s family and friends in our thoughts and prayers.