In honor of Black History Month, each day here at The Source we’ll be chronicling many of the best moments pertaining to Hip Hop that occurred during the meaningful month of February – celebrating the birthdays of now-legendary MCs; highlighting the most impactful album and single releases; even reminiscing on the most obscure, yet culturally-significant footnotes in the genre’s three-decade-spanning history.
Today’s passage takes us on a journey all the way back to February 14, 1981, when Funky 4 + 1 became the first Hip Hop group to perform live on a national television broadcast. Formed in The Bronx in 1976 – originally comprised of K.K. Rockwell, Keith Keith, Sha Rock and Rahiem, prior to incarnations that included Li’l Rodney C! and Jazzy Jeff – the group made history when it appeared on a season-six episode of Saturday Night Live hosted by Blondie‘s Deborah Harry for a performance of its nine-minute hit “That’s the Joint,” which was ranked No. 41 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Songs of Hip Hop list in 2008.
Interestingly enough however, Harry was not only the host, but the main musical guest that evening, performing covers of Teddy Pendergrass’ “Love TKO” and Devo’s “Come Back Jonee.” But she was also allowed to pick a fellow musical guest to accompany her on the program, and decided to go with Funky 4 + 1. “The people on the show were so nervous about them doing it,” recalled Blondie guitarist and boyfriend Chris Stein during an interview for Issue 60 of Wax Poetics. “I remember trying to explain to them how scratching worked. Trying to verbalize what that is for someone who has no idea, it’s really difficult. They wound up going on with a tape.”