Sylvia Robinson, Label Owner Behind 'Rapper’s Delight,' Dies at 76
One-half of the duo Mickey & Sylvia, she also recorded “Pillow Talk,” an R&B hit in 1973.
Sylvia Robinson, a singer and record producer whose label released “Rapper’s Delight,” hip-hop's first mainstream success, died Thursday of congestive heart failure at a hospital in Secaucus, N.J. She was 76.
Robinson and her late husband, Joe, were the owners of Sugar Hill Records. In 1979, the label released "Rapper’s Delight" by the Sugarhill Gang (Master Gee, Wonder Mike and Big Bank Hank).
The 15-minute party song — which introduced the practice of “sampling” — became a sensation, and the condensed version is considered the first rap song to get radio play. The song reached No. 36 on the U.S. pop charts.
Later, Sugar Hill Records’ roster included Grand Master Flash & the Furious Five, behind another early hip-hop hit, "The Message."
Born Sylvia Vanterpool in Detroit, Robinson was a blues singer in the 1950s who was part of the duo Mickey & Sylvia, whose single, "Love Is Strange," went gold in1957. Her biggest hit as a solo artist was the seductive "Pillow Talk,” which was released in 1973 and reached No. 1 on the R&B chart.