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John Fletcher, a.k.a. Ecstasy of the Group Whodini, Dies at 56


Whodini is an American rap group, formed in 1981, whose members are Jalil Hutchins, Ecstasy, and Grandmaster Dee. They were one of the first rap groups to be successful at a national level. Like the Beastie Boys, they were managed by Russell Simmons.

Whodini and Beastie Boys shared more than just a manager. In a 1992 interview with Canadian Much Music television, Beastie Boys were asked the whereabouts of their infamous 1987 tour props. The band revealed that the metal cages, which once contained go-go dancers like Eloise, were in storage. They also revealed that although Vanilla Ice had inquired about borrowing them, Whodini was the only rap act to whom they had ever loaned the cages. Whodini used the cages in the music video for their song "Freaks." Unlike some of the tall tales that the Beastie Boys have been known to tell the media, this particular one is true.

By the time "Freaks" was released as a single in 1991, Whodini was already on the downward slide in their musical career. Back in the golden era of hip-hop, Whodini had scored hits with songs such as "One Love," "Freaks Come Out at Night," and "Funky Beat." Perhaps the pinnacle of Whodini's success came when they went on tour with Run-DMC, LL Cool J, and Beastie Boys. At least two of those Whodini concert performances were recorded by bootleggers. Copies of the concerts continue to circulate among collectors.

In an interview with British music magazine Melody Maker, Sean Carasov revealed that Beastie Boys had composed a song for Whodini. "We're all like family because we're all under the same management, and we all work together," said Carasov. "Run [of Run-DMC] is actually writing some songs for us [Beastie Boys], and we wrote Whodini a song...we all hang out together a lot."

Mike Watt Jerry Williams