​Grandmaster Flash drummer and producer Keith LeBlanc has passed away


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American drummer, record producer, and Grandmaster Flash collaborator Keith LeBlanc has passed away, his record label On-U Sound confirmed earlier today.

“All of us at On-U Sound are heartbroken to share the news that the great Keith LeBlanc has passed away,” they told fans on Twitter.

“An incredible drummer, producer and musical maverick, he will be hugely missed. Rest in power Keith,” they added. His cause of death was not confirmed.

LeBlanc started his career as a session drummer with US hip hop label Sugar Hill Records in the 1980s, where he formed the Sugar Hill House Band alongside Doug Wimbish and Skip “Little Axe” McDonald.

The trio worked with rap stars including the Sugarhill Gang, Grandmaster Flash, and Melle Mel on hit tracks over the years, while LeBlanc separately headed up the bands Tackhead and Little Axe.

As a solo effort, LeBlanc created a track using “emerging sampling technology”, incorprating vocal samples from Malcolm X speeches on his chart-topping track ‘No Sell Out’.

LeBlanc continued his work in sample exploration and was one of the earliest musicians to experiment with the new technology. He also worked as a studio musician for Tommy Boy Records before launching his own label as a home for new music, sample records, and experiments.

Elsewhere, LeBlanc worked alongside the likes of Nine Inch Nails on hit records, created a highly successful solo album ‘Major Malfunction’, and later joined the On-U Sound posse.

“Keith was a major, major talent ..incredible drummer, producer and musician,” said British producer Adrian Sherwood following the announcement of LeBlanc’s death.

“Along with Doug, Skip and also dearly missed Mark Stewart, we enjoyed some of the most creative times together that shaped my musical life. Thank you Brother Keith… Love Forever. Heart and Soul.”

Read some tributes below, and read On-U Sound‘s obituary here.

Gemma Ross is Mixmag’s Assistant Editor, follow her on Twitter

Written by: Tim Hopkins

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