Hip-hop pioneers the Sugarhill Gang were awarded $3 million in damages last week in a suit brought against Snapple Beverage Corporation and Turner Broadcasting System over the wrongful use of their images and voices in a television ad that aired in 1998.
The group-which comprises Big Bang Hank, Wonder Mike, and Master Gee-filed suit in New York City on January 19, 1999, after a commercial featuring them performing “Rapper’s Delight ” aired on TV as a promotion for the Goodwill Games, which Snapple sponsored. Members of the Sugarhill Gang maintain that they were told the commercial would only air on closed-circuit television during a party at New York’s Studio 54. The group was granted summary judgment in June and was awarded $165,000 in compensatory damages and $2.8 million in punitive damages last week.
In 1979, Sugarhill Gang released “Rapper’s Delight,” one of the most influential songs of the era. The group went on to release three full length albums: 1980’s Sugarhill Gang, 1982’s 8th Wonder, and 1999’s Jump On It!