Remember the Sugar Hill Gang?
My friends Seth Buckley and Brian Gibbons remember them well! Seth, Brian, and I are volunteer staff members for Palmetto Boys’ State, a laboratory in state government for rising high school seniors, sponsored by the American Legion. In the early 90’s, Palmetto Boys’ State moved from The Citadel in Charleston, SC, to Wofford College in Spartanburg, SC (then back to The Citadel, then USC, now at Anderson Univ). One of the highlights for each year’s encampment week is the Friday bus trip to Columbia, SC, our state capital, for the Boys’ State Parade and Inauguration Ceremony. During the ride to Columbia, a tradition started where the staff would get “Rapper’s Delight” going and we would see who could remember all of the rap. “Rapper’s Delight” was recorded by The Sugar Hill Gang in 1979 and is known by my generation as the original rap song. Seth always knew the words!
During Boys’ State 1997 at Wofford, I was in the gym parking lot and overheard a Wofford football player (there for summer school) yell across the parking lot to another student, “Hey, are you going to see Sugar Hill tonight?!” This peaked my curiosity and I went over and introduced myself. I asked, “Do you mean THE Sugar Hill Gang?! The original rap group?!” Note – this was almost 20 years after the song was released! They explained that Sugar Hill was scheduled to play at a downtown bar that night in Spartanburg. What an opportunity! I sprinted to find some other staff members to share an impossible idea – bring the Sugar Hill Gang to Boys’ State! I can’t remember all the staff involved, but Brian, Seth and I, along with Jay Pitts, and a few others, armed with permission from Sinclair Lewis and Gene Morehead as well as some cash we gathered (Brian remembers the amount as $800), loaded up and headed out to find “The Gang”! We talked the bar owner into giving us the name of their hotel (unbelievable!)
I still can’t believe it all these years later! It was awesome! The Boys Staters were already divided into 2 groups that night for political party conventions, so the Sugar Hill Gang actually performed twice. The high school students loved them, even though they weren’t quite aware of their significance, but the Staff – many of us still in school when the hit rap came out – went CRAZY! In my almost 30 years of Boys’ State memories, this ranks way up the list! Right up there with 400 NWO “hand printed” T-shirts, Tom & Dave’s Monster Truck, the Banty Hen and her deviled eggs, ButterBall’s ride on the stallion, “kidnapping” a Congressman, Vick & Dee’s Desert Storm, landing a helicopter on the Citadel parade deck and many, many more! But those stories will have to wait for another day. For now, I’ll close with… “I said a hip hop a hibbie to the hibbity hip hop a hoppin you don’t stop a rockin to the bang bang boogie say up jump the boogie to the rythym of the boogity beat…I said I am the Wonder Mike and I’d like to say hello…”
(Original post edited with information from my good friend, Judge Brian Gibbons)