John “Ecstasy” Fletcher Dies: Cofounder Of Pioneering Rappers Whodini Was 56

John Fletcher, who was known by the stage name “Ecstasy” while performing with the early rap group Whodini, has died, according to the group’s Grand Master Dee and numerous friends. He was 56. The cause of death was not revealed.

“One love to Ecstasy of the legendary #Whodini,” wrote Roots drummer Questlove on social media. “This man was legendary and a pivotal member of one of the most legendary groups in hip hop. This is sad man.”

Whodini were among the commercial pioneers of rap music as contemporaries of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five and Kurtis Blow. Their hit singles included Friends, Freaks Come Out at Night, Magic’s Wand and The Haunted House of Rock. The group earned one platinum (a million units sold) and two gold albums (500,000 units).

Tributes poured in for Fletcher on social media.

“[In] 1987 I entered the Def Jam tour,” wrote Public Enemy’s Chuck D. “I tended to be nervous, looking at 15,000 fans in front of me every night. There were two MCS that directly mentored my calm that summer. One was Doug E. Fresh and the other was Ecstacy of Whodini. Always there to reassure with advice and tips.”

Whodini was formed by Fletcher and Jalil Hutchins in Brooklyn, NY in 1982. The group signed with Jive Records and managed by Russell Simmons, who also handled Run-DMC and Kurtis Blow. Their first single was Magic’s Wand, a tribute to early hip-hop DJ Mr. Magic.

Fletcher, known for his Zorro hat. was a focal point of the group.

The big commercial breakthrough came with Escape, which included Freaks Come Out at Night and Friends, the latter one of the most-sampled songs in hip-hop.

Whodini went on the road with Run-DMC’s epic “Raising Hell Tour,” one of that year’s major music events that featured LL Cool J and the Beastie Boys as well.

As new styles emerged in hip-hop, Whodini became part of the old school, and was pushed down the food chain. Their final album arrived in 1996, but the group continued appearing at reunion shows.

Whodini was honored by VH1’s Hip Hop Honors in 2007 and at the Black Music Honors in 2018, where they received the Hip-Hop Icon Award.

No information was immediately available on survivors or memorial plans.

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