Rap pioneer John “Ecstasy” Fletcher, of the seminal hip-hop trio Whodini, has reportedly died at the age of 56, according to The Roots drummer Questlove, who posted a fond farewell to the iconic rapper on Instagram. “One love to Ecstasy of the legendary Whodini,” wrote Questlove, who 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. “This man was legendary and a pivotal member of one of the most legendary groups in hip-hop.”
Quest isn’t exaggerating. 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. They were honored in 2007 at the fourth Vh1 Hip Hop Honors.
Rest In Peace “Ecstasy” – John Fletcher – of WHODINI .
“Freaks Come Out at Night”… pic.twitter.com/aSCnufEMRO
— Rex Chapman🏇🏼 (@RexChapman) December 23, 2020
Another blow in a bad year. John Fletcher aka Ex of #whodini has just passed. The trio, along with producer Larry Smith, made the first hip-hop records that black radio embraced. Personality, humor and hooks.
— Nelson George (@nelsongeorge) December 23, 2020
Whodini carried the flag for the genre of Rap and were dominant between the years of 1983 and 1987. That’s 5 straight years. By 1988, it was clear they were going to have a tough time competing against Golden Era artists & groups. Without Whodini, we never MAKE IT to a Golden Era
— Dart_Adams (@Dart_Adams) December 23, 2020
I say this a lot about Whodini, but they don't get the props they deserve because Sugar Hill (1979-1982) and Def Jam (1984-) mythology sucks up all the air. Never forget they were *second billed* on the Raising Hell '86 tour over both LL Cool J *and* Beastie Boys #RIPEcstasy pic.twitter.com/pNEw5sVyzZ
— Christopher R. Weingarten (@1000TimesYes) December 23, 2020
Ecstasy’s death is being mourned by some of hip-hop’s most prominent voices, including historians Nelson George and Dart Adams. His contributions to the culture will be remembered fondly and he will be missed.