At the time, my belief was that the Sugarhill Gang invented rap music. Someone told it to me my sophomore year at Truman State. And it had to be true. The only way I could dispute it would be to walk to the computer lab and see if there was an available station to go online. And even then I wouldn’t be guaranteed of factual results.
While it wasn’t the first rap song, it was a no brainer for me and about 10 friends to purchase the $15 ticket to see the aging group from New Jersey. I’m pretty sure Toons charged us a cover on top of the ticket.
The show was at local nightclub Toons. A creative play on words, Toons was a Looney Tunes themed dance club with murals of Tweety, Sylvester and Yosemite Sam to name a few. Pool tables, a stage and a cat walk system that to this day I cannot believe no one fell from. At this point, I don’t know if you believe me still on the name and theme. If I would of had a phone that took pictures at the time, I would have proof.
I cannot tell you who Steal Rivers band was, or is…and I have no memory of them opening for Sugarhill Gang. A quick Google search reveals nothing really. I’m hoping at the time Steal Rivers didn’t put too much into their appearance. The bewildering part to the story is that I do not have any recollection of Grandmaster Flash as part of the show. Although he might of been on the stage in a white leather jacket and pants. Someone was in that outfit and it wasn’t a student.
I cannot name one other Sugarhill Gang besides ‘Rapper’s Delight.’ And following this concert, I was still unable to name another Sugarhill Gang song. But it was ‘Rapper’s Delight’ this crowd had waited patiently for…
Now some 18 years later, I know two songs by the Sugarhill Gang. ‘Rapper’s Delight’ and ‘Apache.’ Do y0urself a favor and invest four minutes in their video for Apache.
When the first few beats hit the room, the gang immediately caught the attention of the 200 or so folks in attendance. Everyone moved to the front and bounced in unison. We were in it for the long haul. Sugarhill Gang didn’t lay up on this one…Within moments of the 14-minute song starting, the group was asking the crowd to join them on the stage.
It was on the stage I have two great memories.
The first being that I knew enough of the lyrics to sing into one of the mics and not mess up the song. Maybe four words.
And second, my close friend Hank Rischar was able to sing along next to Sugar Hill Gang’s largest member, Big Bank Hank. Two big hanks on the stage in Kirksville, Missouri singing one of the best rap songs of all time. It’s one of the Top 25 moments I wish I had a phone to record such an event. The group was great – stayed after and signed autographs – and we probably spent $25 total all evening. And it was a safe bet we ended the evening at Country Kitchen or Pancake City.