Run-D.M.C.'s D.M.C.

Turning 34 today is Darryl McDaniels, the D.M.C. of Run-D.M.C., one of

the most influential hip-hop groups in the genre's history. D.M.C. was

born in New York City and raised in Hollis, a middle-class section of

Queens, N.Y. D.M.C.'s boyhood friend Joseph Simmons, "Run," was the

brother of Russell Simmons, who created the pioneering rap record label Def

Jam with producer Rick Rubin. Russell encouraged his brother and D.M.C.

to form a rap act. After they graduated from high school in 1982,

D.M.C. and Joseph Simmons persuaded their friend Jason Mizell

to join the group. Mizell, the turntablist, took the name Jam Master

Jay and Run-D.M.C. were born.

The group's first single,

HREF="http://www.addict.com/music/Run_D.M.C./Its_Like_That.ram">"It's Like

That" (RealAudio excerpt) b/w "Sucker M.C.'s," was a top-20

R&B hit and established Run-D.M.C.'s trademark sound -- a

harder rap with spare beats, literate lyrics and Run and D.M.C.'s

overlapping vocals set to a drum machine and turntable scratch.

Incredibly, the group created the sound of today's rap with its first

release. After a few more hit singles, Run-D.M.C. released their

eponymous first album (produced by Rubin) in 1984, proving that they

were the first rap group that was more than a singles act.

Their second album, 1985's King of Rock, established Run-D.M.C. as

the most

talented and popular rap act in the world and began a rash of imitation

groups. "Can You Rock It Like This" added guitar and

synthesizer to the group's sound. More importantly, the album had the

trio rapping over heavy metal, breaking the barrier between hip-hop and

rock music.

After starring in the rap film "Krush Groove" with Kurtis

Blow and the Beastie Boys, Run-D.M.C. released 1986's Raising

Hell, which broke their combination of rap and rock into the

mainstream. The album was a #1 R&B hit (the first for a rap act),

thanks chiefly to "Walk This Way," the trio's cover of and collaboration

with hard-rock giants Aerosmith.

The track was a groundbreaker -- the

first to feature rock and rap artists together -- and was a huge pop hit

as well. "Walk This Way" also propelled Raising Hell into the

top region of the Billboard 200 albums chart and helped it reach

platinum

status (another first for a rap act). The Aerosmith collaboration and the

follow-up singles, "You Be Illin' " and "It's Tricky," also established

Run-D.M.C. as the first rap group to be MTV favorites.

In 1988, Tougher Than Leather came with a movie of the same name -- a

parody of '70s blaxploitation films -- starring the trio. But at the time

of its release, hip-hop fans were turning to hard-core rap with social

messages -- like that of Public Enemy -- and gangsta rap. After another

even less successful album, Run-D.M.C. also had personal obstacles to

overcome, as D.M.C. became an alcoholic and Simmons was accused of

rape.

Their troubles resulted in D.M.C. and Simmons becoming

born-again Christians, an influence documented on 1993's Down With The

King. The album featured the trio collaborating with such hot acts

as Public Enemy, KRS-One and A Tribe Called Quest. It went gold and

spawned the top-10 R&B title song. Simmons became a minister at Zoe

Ministries Church in Manhattan, N.Y.

A new album has yet to surface from the

trio, but Run-D.M.C. retain a large, devoted following and will go down

in music history as rap music's greatest innovators. They are

reportedly working again with producer Rubin on new tracks.

Other birthdays: Peter Yarrow (Peter, Paul and Mary), 60; Augie Meyers

(Texas Tornados), 58; Mick Ralphs (Mott the Hoople/Bad Company), 54; Dan

Pearson

(American Music Club), 39; Wendy Smith (Prefab Sprout), 35 ... John

Bonham (Led Zeppelin), 1948-1980.