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Lovebug Starski

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Lovebug Starski
Background information
Birth nameKevin Smith
Born(1960-05-16)May 16, 1960
The Bronx, New York City, U.S.
DiedFebruary 8, 2018(2018-02-08) (aged 57)
Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.
GenresHip hop
  • Rapper
  • DJ
  • record producer
Years active1971–2018

Kevin Smith (May 16, 1960 – February 8, 2018),[1] best known by his stage name Lovebug Starski, was an American MC, musician, and record producer. He began his career as a record boy in 1971 as hip hop first appeared in the Bronx, and he eventually became a DJ at the Disco Fever club in 1978. He is one of two people who may have come up with the term "hip-hop".[2][3] Starski claimed that he coined the phrase, while trading the two words back and forth, while improvising lines with Keef Cowboy of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, at a farewell party for a friend who was headed into the Army.[1] In an interview with Dave Hill in the newspaper The Observer, Starski explained, "I picked up the mic and just started saying ‘a hip hop, hip hop, de hibbyhibbyhibbyhibby hop’. The people couldn’t believe it but it stuck."[4]



Starski recorded his first single, "Positive Life," on the Tayster record label in 1981.[5] (The British Group MARRS would sample this in 1987 with the No. 1 single "Pump Up the Volume".) Later, he recorded a song for the soundtrack of the 1986 film Rappin',[5] which was released on Atlantic Records, before recording his first album, House Rocker, on Epic/CBS Records.[5] This featured his most successful chart single, "Amityville (The House on the Hill),"[5] a parody song named in reference to the film The Amityville Horror (itself based on alleged supernatural activities surrounding the DeFeo murder case). It was a No. 12 hit on the UK Singles Chart[6] in 1986. Lovebug Starski sank into cocaine dependency and was imprisoned for possession of illegal substances in 1987.[5] On release in December 1991, he returned to a DJ residency at his former haunt, Disco Fever.[5]

Lovebug Starski and World Famous Brucie B, also worked together at the Rooftop Roller rink in Harlem during the 1980s.[citation needed]



Starski died of a heart attack in Las Vegas on February 8, 2018, at the age of 57, while moving speakers out of storage into his apartment.[1][7] Smith had recently relocated to Las Vegas, where he was working to revive his DJ career with gigs including a weekly residency at the rooftop lounge of Indian restaurant Turmeric Flavors of India. His final appearance there was just hours before his death, according to his manager, Jeremy Crittenden.[7] He is survived by his mother, Martha Bowes; two sisters, Kim Shaw and Karen Rivers; three daughters, Tiffany Williams, Shantel Williams and Bryanna Smith; three granddaughters and a grandson.[1]




  • House Rocker (1986)


  • "Gangster Rock" (1979) (as Little Starsky)
  • "Dancin' Party People" (1981) (as Little Starsky)
  • "Positive Life" (1981) (with Harlem World Crew)
  • "Live at the Fever" (1983) (On Fever Records)
  • "Live at the Fever Pt.2" (1983) (On Fever Records)
  • "You've Gotta Believe" (On Fever Records) (1983)
  • "Do the Right Thing" (1984)
  • "House Rocker" (1985)
  • "Rappin'" (1985)
  • "Amityville (The House on the Hill)" (1986)
  • "Saturday Night" (1986)


  1. ^ a b c d Caramanica, Jon (February 9, 2018). "Lovebug Starski, Hip-Hop Trailblazer, Is Dead at 57". The New York Times. p. B8.
  2. ^ Lynskey, Dorian (August 7, 2016). "Grandmaster Flash: 'Hip-hop's message was simple: we matter'". The Guardian.
  3. ^ "The Sacramento Bee 12 Oct 2004, page 46". Newspapers.com. Retrieved September 22, 2023.
  4. ^ "The Observer 15 Jun 1986, page 27". The Observer. Retrieved May 8, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Colin Larkin, ed. (1998). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Dance Music (First ed.). Virgin Books. p. 205. ISBN 0-7535-0252-6.
  6. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 331. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  7. ^ a b Serwer, Jesse (February 9, 2018). "Lovebug Starski, Rap Pioneer Who Popularized Term 'Hip-Hop,' Dead at 57". Rolling Stone. ISSN 0035-791X.