Member of: Beatmaster, Dumb Guys, Fats Comet, Sugarhill Gang Band, Tackhead, Wood Brass & Steel
Alias: DJ Spike
Keith LeBlanc is highly regarded as one of hip hop’s first session drummers. Following a brief time performing with funk, soul group Wood, Brass & Steel, he became a member of Sugar Hill’s in-house band together with bandmates Skip McDonald and Doug Wimbish, and others where he performed on many tracks from the likes of Sugarhill Gang, Funky 4, The Sequence, etc.
Infuenced by Adventures On The Wheels Of Steel by Grandmaster Flash, Keith decided to put together a track himself using the voice of Malcolm X. With a little help from Marshall Chess, Reggie Griffin, and Chris Lord-Alge, he produced one of the very first sample-based hip hop records, No Sell Out. Although it was recorded in Sugar Hill‘s studios, it wasn’t made specifically for the label.
After being given permission from Betty Shabazz, Malcolm X‘s widow, to release the track, and concerned that Sugar Hill wouldn’t pay her for the use of Malcolm’s vocals, Keith took the track to Tom Silverman at Tommy Boy where it was officially released in 1983. He even insisted that Malcolm X’s name be prominent as the artist.
However, as the track was recorded in Sugar Hill‘s studio, Joe Robinson had access to the recording and, without Keith’s knowledge, went ahead and released it on the Sugar Hill label as the Sugar Hill All-Stars.
A court case then ensued over the track in which Keith and Tommy Boy were victorious. Initial test press copies included gunshots at the end of the track which was removed for the official release at Betty’s request.
Keith featured two solo tracks on the 1985 album, Masters Of The Beat, which also included tracks from The Latin Rascals, Whiz Kid, Hashim, and Rick Rubin. The following year saw his debut solo album, Major Malfunction, was released on the UK’s World Records and featured Skip and Doug.
Keith, together with Skip, Doug, Adrian Sherwood, and Bernard Alexander also recorded more experimental material under the moniker, Fats Comet which evolved into the more well known, Tackhead.