The New York Connection: What do Blondie, Chic, the Clash and the Sugar Hill Gang (Allegedly) Have in Common?
Photo: (Clockwise) Debbie Harry, the Sugarhill Gang, the Clash and Chic.
The odd answer to that question is they all allegedly shared a stage in New York on a night that gave rise to the Sugar Hill Gang’s subsequent single, Rapper’s Delight.
Blondie, Chic and (some say) the Clash were playing a couple of nights at the Palladium in New York in 1979 and when Chic played Good Times, some of the members of what became the Sugarhill Gang got up onstage and rapped with the band.
Weeks later one of the members of Chic, guitarist Nile Rodgers, heard an early version of Rapper’s Delight in a New York nightclub and asked the DJ about it. Initially pissed off about the unauthorised sampling of Chic’s song, eventually Rodgers and Chic’s bass player, Bernard Edwards, received the songwriting credit on the track.
Rodgers later said it was one of his favourite records of all time.
Even though I was heavily into Punk and New Wave music, I really liked Rapper’s Delight when it was released in the UK in 1979. I also enjoyed some tracks by Chic back then too, mainly for the fantastic bass lines, so Rapper’s Delight was a win-win for me. Although I remained unaware of rumours of the Clash and Blondie’s Punk involvement in that momentous night until I was researching the track for its mention in my 1970s-1980s Punk and New Wave memoir, Bombed Out!.
The Clash’s role in proceedings that night has been hotly disputed by people who were at the gig, as a comment below this article makes clear, but Blondie members were definitely there.