This Day in Black History: May 31, 1964

Hip hop pioneer and Run-DMC member Darryl McDaniels was born.

Posted: 05/31/2014 12:00 AM EDT

Hip hop legend Darryl McDaniels, best known as one third of the groundbreaking rap trio Run-DMC, was born on May 31, 1964, in New York City.  

In the early 1970s, the recordings of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five inspired a young McDaniels to further explore hip hop music. His foray into the burgeoning scene began in 1978 in his family’s home where he taught himself how to DJ in the basement as a teenager. 

That same year, McDaniels would join fellow Hollis, Queens, neighbors Joseph “Rev Run” Simmons and Jason “Jam Master Jay” Mizell to form the group Run-DMC. Since releasing their self-titled debut album in 1984, the group has sold more than 30 million singles and albums worldwide and played a large role in bringing rap music into the mainstream.

The hip hop “firsts” that Run-DMC has achieved include: being the first rap group to earn a gold, platinum and multi-platinum album; being the first to have their videos played on MTV; and being the first to appear on American Bandstand and Saturday Night Live.

As for his personal life, McDaniels’s unhappiness with the demanding nature of touring and performing led to ongoing bouts of alcoholism, drug dependency, depression and suicidal intentions. However, after hearing Sarah McLachlan’s song “Angel,” which he credits with saving his life, the superstar gained a new outlook. 

What followed next was an autobiography, a documentary chronicling his search for his biological mother, a solo album and many television and feature film appearances. McDaniels has also become a national champion of adoption and children in foster care.

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(Photo: Gregg DeGuire/PictureGroup)


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