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Biography

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Overview (4)

Date of Birth 6 January 1940Washington, District of Columbia, USA
Date of Death 6 July 1979Englewood, New Jersey, USA  (heart attack)
Birth NameVan Allen Clinton McCoy
Nickname King of Disco

Mini Bio (1)

Singer, songwriter and music producer Van Allen Clinton McCoy was born on January 6, 1940, in Washington, DC. He sang with the Metropolitan Baptist Church choir when he was a kid. At age 12 he began writing his own songs and performing in local amateur shows along with his older brother, Norman Jr. He was the lead singer of the doo-wop group The Starlighters, which recorded the novelty dance record "The Birdland" in 1956. After The Starlighters broke up McCoy studied psychology for two years at Howard University before dropping out and moving to Philadelphia.

He began his own label, Rockin' Records, and released the single "Hey Mr. DJ" in 1959. This in turn led to McCoy being hired as a staff writer and A&R representative for Scepter Records. Throughout the early to mid=60s Van penned numerous hit songs for such artists as The Shirelles ("Stop the Music"), Jackie Wilson ("I Get the Sweetest Feeling"), Gladys Knight & The Pips ("Giving Up"), Betty Everett ("Getting Mighty Crowded"), Ruby & The Romantics ("When You're Young and in Love"), 'Brenda & The Tabulations' ("Right on the Tip of My Tongue"), Chris Bartley ("The Sweetest Thing This Side of Heaven") and Barbara Lewis ("Baby, I'm Yours"). In 1966 McCoy recorded the solo album "Nighttime Is a Lonely Time" for Columbia Records (the album was produced by Mitch Miller_. He started his own short-lived label, Vando, in 1967. In the early 1970s Van collaborated with producer and songwriter Charles Kipps on many sessions, including David Ruffin's acclaimed 1975 Motown comeback album "Who I Am." In addition, McCoy arranged several hits for the soul group The Stylistics, formed his own orchestra called Soul City Symphony and, with singers Faith Hope & Charity, recorded several albums and gave many live performances.

In 1975 Van scored an enormous smash hit with the groovy disco instrumental "The Hustle;" the song peaked at #1 on the Billboard charts in July 1975, sold well over a million copies and won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance. Stunned by the surprise success of "The Hustle" and unhappy with his newfound status as a disco hitmaker, McCoy nonetheless recorded a few follow-up disco songs and albums that failed to replicate the substantial success of "The Hustle." He returned to writing and producing material for other artists for the remainder of his career.

Van McCoy died of a sudden massive heart attack on July 6, 1979 in Englewood, New Jersey; he was only 39 years old.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: woodyanders (qv's & corrections by A. Nonymous)

Trivia (5)

His disco anthem, "The Hustle," was a number 1 recording in July of 1975. It sold ten million copies, won a Grammy as "Best Pop Instrumental of 1975" and is considered the best-selling disco disk of all time.
Prolific songwriter/producer/arranger. Wrote "Giving Up" for Gladys Knight & The Pips, "Sweet Bitter Love" for Aretha Franklin, "The Sweetest Thing This Side Of Heaven" for Chris Bartley, "I Get The Sweetest Feeling" for Jackie Wilson, "Suddenly, I'm All Alone" for Walter Jackson and "Right On The Tip Of My Tongue" for 'Brenda & The Tabulations', among others. Produced and/or arranged hits for artists such as David Ruffin, Faith, Hope & Charity, The Stylistics and Zulema. Discovered by Mitch Miller.
Wrote a song called "We're Just Two of a Kind" for the late Mary Wells, on her self-titled 1965 album for 20th Century-Fox.
His big hit song "The Hustle" was written in under an hour and was the last track recorded for the 1975 album "Disco Baby".
Founder of Vando Records.

Personal Quotes (1)

When I wrote "The Hustle" I'd never even been to a disco to see the dance. What happened was that David Todd, who's one of the top DJs in the New York discos, came to me and told me about this new dance. I got a couple of girls to do "The Hustle" for me in the office so I could get the rhythm right, and I wrote the tune.

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