John Fletcher, best known as Ecstasy from the pioneering rap group Whodini, has died, the group’s Grand Master Dee has confirmed. The cause of death was unclear at the time of this article’s publication; he was 56.
Roots drummer Questlove was the first to break the news on Wednesday (Dec. 23) via a social-media post paying tribute to the veteran rapper. “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.”
While not as well-known as early hip-hop pioneers like Kurtis Blow or Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Whodini were among the most popular early rap outfits, via hit singles like “Friends,” “Freaks Come Out at Night,” “Magic’s Wand” and “The Haunted House of Rock.” The group’s combination of rapping and singing and its synth-heavy sound were a staple in early ‘80s nightclubs and brought the group one platinum and two gold albums. “The trio, along with producer Larry Smith, made the first hip-hop records that black radio embraced,” veteran writer Nelson George wrote on Twitter Wednesday.