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Passings: Hip Hop Pioneer Lovebug Starski (1960 - 2018)

by VVN Music

Lovebug Starski, an early pioneer of Hip Hop music, died on Thursday (February 8) after suffering a heart attack. He was 57.

Born as Kevin Smith in the Bronx and began his music career in 1971, at the age of 11, as a "record boy".

In 1978, he began working as a DJ at the Disco Fever club (Krush Groove) in New York which was also the home to a number of up-and-coming young pioneers like Grandmaster Flash. He became known for his ability to rap while simultaneously running the turntables and, in 1979, released his first single, "Gangster Rock", as Little Starsky.

It was also during this time that Starski began using the words "hip hop"; however, there is some controversy on whether he was the first to use the term.

His first single under the Lovebug Starski name was 1981's "Positive Life" which would later be sampled by MARRS for their "Pump Up the Volume". His biggest hit came in 1986 with "Amityville (The House on the Hill)" which went to number 12 in the U.K. That same year, his only album, House Rocker, was released.

Also during that decade, Starski worked with World Famous Brucie B at Rooftop Roller in Harlem and, in the 90's, worked again with DJ Hollywood.

Starski was living in Las Vegas at the time of his death where he was working on reviving his DJ career.

Among the tributes:

"When I met you I looked up to you and you didn't disappoint me. You were as cool as I hoped you would be. Rest in power Love Bug. I salute you and respect you OG. You paved the way. 😢 #LoveBugStarski #IBelieve #YouGottaBelieve#hiphop" - LL Cool J

"Rest in peace, legend!" - Waka Flocka Flame

"Spoke to Rolling Stone about Love Bug... He will be missed!" - Grandmaster Flash

"I will forever miss you my friend!!!! RIP" - Kurtis Blow

"We Lost One Of Our Greatest Pioneers Of Hip Hop." - DJ Premier

"One of The GREATEST. One the pioneers they laid the building blocks for all of us in Hip-Hop to do what we do. Give thanks and if you don't know who he is please please look it up and learn the history. RIP Lovebug Starski" - Sway Calloway

"I was super sad when I heard about him passing earlier. I booked Lovebug Starski in 2003 at Tastytreats. He was the nicest, kindest guy with an awesome spirit. He killed his set, and of course, hosted it too, and did it in a way only a legend in the industry could. We stayed in touch for some time. He reached out to me after the booking and said Stac! What's your address, I want to send you something.. I got a package with like 30 mixed CD's that he made, each one a different vibe. I listened to them over and over and just went down in the basement to dig them out of my saved and classic CD stash. Took me a minute to find them but I knew they were around. I'm so glad I still have them. Rest in peace and paradise, Lovebug." - Stacey Wilson