John ‘Ecstasy’ Fletcher, a co-founder of the early New York hip-hop duo Whodini, died December 30 at the age of 56. He employed electro-funk and R&B influences to grow the new genre into an economically formidable force. The reason for death was unknown at the time.
In a statement, Fletcher’s daughter Jonnelle said, “The African and Native American ancestors have gathered around and chosen this day, during the Winter Solstice, December 23rd, 2020 to call for a most loving, kind, and true soul.” To one of Hip Hop’s Greatest, ‘One Love!’ Jalil Hutchins, another member of his band, remarked, ‘There will never be another.’
Fletcher was born in Brooklyn and raised in the Wyckoff projects of the area. Whodini, along with Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Afrika Bambaataa, and Kurtis Blow, were some of the first performers to take an emerging hip-hop culture of DJ-driven street parties and get prominence in the wider music industry in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Whodini’s sound influenced generations of artists and became great sample material for Dr. Dre, Kanye West, and Nipsey Hussle. It was synth-driven with a hook-heavy blend of singing and rapping.
Fletcher and singer-rapper Hutchins created Whodini in Brooklyn in 1982 (DJ Drew “Grandmaster Dee” Carter joined later). Fletcher was the group’s most instantly recognizable face, wearing his signature wide-brimmed hat.
In 1987, he told The New York Times, “Rap needs some sex symbols.” “There was no one out there driving the girls insane.” LL [Cool J] may be popular with the ladies, but I’m talking about a true sex icon. That’s who we are.”
“John ‘Ecstasy’ Fletcher was a cherished man, the life partner to Deltona and ex-husband to Carla, twin brother to Joseph, artist, friend, and lifetime performance companion to the Legendary Jalil of Whodini,” Jonnelle Fletcher said in a statement.
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