It’s a dark day for American hip hop. Big Bank Hank born Henry Lee Jackson in The Bronx in 1956 is dead at 58 years of age.

I was a country kid growing up on a farm in Eastern Kentucky when Rapper’s Delight bulldozed its way onto the radio stations of Knoxville, Tennessee and Lexington, Kentucky.

Upon hearing this sound that had never existed in the hollers of Knox County, I immediately petitioned my mom to fire up the Country Squire and drive me into town (Corbin) for a visit to Mid South Hi Fi where I could buy the record and set upon memorizing every last word.

Which I did.

While my parents favored the music of Jerry Lee and Merle Haggard, I could not get enough of the Sugarhill Gang, Grandmaster Flash and Whodini. Me and my crew memorized every song by these outfits and could religiously rap each album in its entirety on the grounds of Saint Camillus Academy where we matriculated.

A life dream came true in Austin in the late 90s when I saw Sugarhill Gang command the stage at Liberty Lunch the legendary and long-shuttered live music venue that anchored the then nascent nightlife district of downtown Austin.

Weed smoke billowed about the room as my heroes regaled the crowd with tales of macaroni salad and cuckolding Superman.

It’s one of the greatest shows I’ve ever seen in a life filled with thousands of concerts and gigs.

RIP Big Bank Hank


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