Marcel Theo Hall, a.k.a. Biz Markie and best known for his 1989 hit single Just a Friend has died. He was 57 years old.
In 1988, Markie released his first album, Goin’ Off and got some attention with his single Make the Music with Your Mouth, Biz. In 1989, Markie released his second album The Biz Never Sleeps which contained the single Just a Friend.
Just a Friend became a monster hit for Markie, reaching number 9 on the Billboard Hot 100. The single features Markie alternating between rap and off-key singing and samples Freddie Scott’s 1968 single You Got What I need.
Markie’s third album I Need a Haircut was plagued by lower sales, but hit bigger problems when Markie was served a lawsuit by musician Gilbert O’Sullivan who claimed the single Alone Again featured an unauthorized sample from O’Sullivan’s song Alone Again (Naturally). In a landmark 1991 ruling Grand Upright Music, Ltd. v. Warner Bros. Records Inc., the court ruled that sampling without permission constitutes copyright infringement. The judgment changed music industry, particularly Hip Hop in that now required any future music sampling be approved by the original copyright owners.
Following the court ruling, Markie released the album All Samples Cleared! Released on June 22, 1993, the title was inspired by that court ruling.
Markie’s music career slowed following that fourth album and he would release one more studio album in 2003 with Weekend Warrior. During this time, Markie’s attention would turn to film and television appearances.
Markie suffered from health problems over the past 15 months. He was hospitalized in April 2020 due to severe complications from Type 2 Diabetes. There were reports later in the year he was at a rehabilitation facility as a result of a stroke he had suffered after going into diabetic coma. Earlier this month, there were reports of Markie’s passing which were denied by his representatives.
Ultimately, Markie passed away in a Baltimore hospital on July 16. No official cause was given.
Photo Credit: Biz Markie, Twitter