Breaking News: The Music World Mourns the Loss of Drumming Legend Keith LeBlanc!


Producer and drummer Keith LeBlanc, who worked with Gradnmaster Flash, Nine Inch Nails as well as the Cure and many more, has passed away. On-U Sound, his label On-U Sound, confirmed LeBlanc’s death in an announcement posted on On-U Sound’s official web site together alongside his wife, Fran LeBlanc and his wife Fran LeBlanc, who told that Variety they had learned that the famous drummer passed away on Thursday following fighting an unidentified disease. He was 69.


“All of us at On-U Sound are heartbroken to share the news that the great Keith LeBlanc has passed away,” the label announced. “An incredible drummer, producer and musical maverick, he will be hugely missed. Rest in power, Keith.”

Keith LeBlanc, the first hip-hop drummer - Behind The Drums

Born at Bristol, Connecticut in 1954, LeBlanc began playing drums after watching Ringo Starr of The Beatles appearing on TV. Following his joining of the orchestra at high school and performing in his first show when he was 14 years old, he started working as a drummer at Sugarhill Records in the early 1980s, playing with the label’s house band with the bassist Doug Wimbish and guitarist Skip McDonald. The group collaborated with other artists, including Sugarhill Gang (“Rapper’s Delight”) and Grandmaster Flash and Melle Mel on “The Message” and “Freedom.” LeBlanc was at Sugarhill Records until 1982 before changing towards Tommy Boy and session work.

After the success of his revolutionary “No Sell Out” single in 1983, LeBlanc met British producer Adrian Sherwood. They soon began to collaborate along together with LeBlanc and Sherwood bringing Wimbish and McDonald together to create Tackhead. Tackhead released 4 albums from 1987 until 2014. The group disbanded in the mid 1990s, but came back for a tour in 2004 and 2022.

“Keith was a major, major talent ..incredible drummer, producer and musician,” Sherwood said. Alongside Doug, Skip and also very much miss Mark Stewart we enjoyed some of the most innovative moments together, which changed my life as a musician. Thank you Brother Keith..Love Forever. Heart and Soul.”


In the course of his career for decades, LeBlanc also worked as an artist on his own with a record collection of 7 albums. One of them was his groundbreaking debut album from 1986, Major Malfunction. As a programmer and drummer, he collaborated with artists like James Brown, Trevor Horn, Seal, R.E.M., The Rolling Stones, Annie Lennox, Tina Turner, Sinead O’Connor, and many more. His production and writing skills were also utilized by musicians like Living Colour, Peter Gabriel, The Cure, Ministry and Nine Inch Nails.

As per Variety the Hip-hop scholar Jay Quan is currently working on an documentary about LeBlanc’s personal career and life.


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