Singer And Sugar Hill Records Executive Sylvia Robinson Passes Away

October 2, 2011 by Amy Gold

Sylvia Robinson, 1973
Sylvia Robinson, 1973

Singer, songwriter, producer and record label executive Sylvia Robinson passed away on Sept. 29, 2011 at age 75 from congestive heart failure. She is survived by 3 sons and 10 grandchildren.

She was born Sylvia Vanterpool in 1936 in New York City on March 6, 1936. Oldies fans will remember Robinson as one half of the Mickey & Sylvia duo best known for their 1957 hit, "Love Is Strange." The duo had a string of hits through 1961 which also included "There Oughta Be A Law" (1957) and "Baby, You're So Fine" (1961).

In 1964, she married Joe Robinson and in 1968, they formed the All Platinum Records which released records for Donnie Elbert, Shirley Goodman, and other soul singers. Robinson co-wrote and produced the Moments' 1970 hit, "Love on a Two Way Street." In 1973, billed as Sylvia, she had a hit with the steamy "Pillow Talk" which topped the Billboard R&B charts and peaked at #3 on the Pop/Rock charts. In 1979, Robinson, her husband Joe, and Milton Malden co-founded Sugar Hill Records.

Sylvia Robinson is famous as the producer of the Sugarhill Gang's groundbreaking "Rapper's Delight" (1979), the first hip-hop single to make the Billboard Top 40. She also produced the hip-hop classic, "The Message" (1982), by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five which is critically acclaimed for its socially conscious lyrics. Robinson is widely known as the "Godmother of Hip-Hop" for bringing this genre to the forefront of pop music.