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Stars That Died

Monday, July 7, 2008

Who is William Jonathan Drayton Jr.?

William Jonathan Drayton, Jr. The music world knows him by his stage name Flavor Flav. He is an American rapper, television star, and member of the rap group Public Enemy.[3] He is also known for popularizing the role of the hype man[4] and for yelling "Yeah boy!" and "Flavor Flav!" during performances.[3][5]

After falling out of the public eye for a number of years, he has recently reappeared as the star of several VH1 reality series, including The Surreal Life, Strange Love, and Flavor of Love.

Flav was born March 16, 1959 and he grew up in Freeport, Long Island with parents William Sr. and Angie Drayton. His father owned a greasy spoon called the Soul Diner.[6] Flav began playing the piano at age five; he claims to be self-taught.[7] A musical prodigy, he sang in the youth choir at his church and mastered the piano, drums, and guitar at an early age.[6] He eventually became proficient in 15 instruments.[5] His childhood included legal trouble: He set a house on fire as a small child while playing with a lighter and, by the time he dropped out of school in the 11th grade, he had been in and out of jail for robbery and burglary.[6]

He attended Adelphi University in Long Island where he met Carlton Ridenhour, who would become known as Chuck D.[3] Flavor Flav took his stage name after his graffiti tag.[5] They first collaborated on Chuck D's hip-hop college radio show, then began rapping together. The two worked for Chuck D's father's delivery service.[6]

By the 1990s, Flav had become a drug addict. In 1991, he pled guilty to assaulting his then-girlfriend Karen Ross and he served 30 days in jail, lost custody of his children, and sank deeper into addiction.[6] Two years later, he was charged with attempted murder and imprisoned for 90 days for shooting at his neighbor in 1993.[5] He was later charged with domestic violence, cocaine and marijuana charges; his family performed an intervention and he checked into the Betty Ford Center for crack addiction.[5][6]

After leaving the clinic, Flav began dating Angie Parker, with whom he has three more children. However, because of his previous erratic behavior, Public Enemy had temporarily stopped performing and, without anything else to do, he found himself back in addiction. After his father died of diabetes in 1997 he decided to re-enter rehabilitation, this time at the Long Island Center for Recovery. At one point, he broke both arms in a motorcycle crash.[5] After leaving the clinic, he began dating Beverly Johnson, and by 2000, he lived in a small apartment in the Bronx with her and her two kids from a previous marriage while making extra cash scalping baseball tickets.[6] In 2002, he spent nine weeks in Rikers Island prison for driving with a suspended license, numerous parking tickets and showing up late for his probation officer.[5]

Following his release from prison, he broke up with Johnson and moved in with his mom on Long Island. Chuck D became concerned about his friend's well-being and, towards the end of 2003, suggested Flav move to Los Angeles. He moved into his friend Princess' apartment and within months met Cris Abrego and Mark Cronin, the creators and executive producers of The Surreal Life, who had tracked him down as soon as they heard he had moved to Los Angeles. Seeing that he had remained clean from his previous addictions, they wanted to cast him. Initially Flav refused, feeling the show was for celebrities past their fame. He was eventually convinced to join by previous participant MC Hammer.[6]

Flav has seven children. Their names are Shaniq, Karen, Designa, Kwan, William, Kayla, and Karma. He also has two grandchildren, Brianna and Matthew. Both grandchildren belong to his daughter Shaniq.[8] Three of his children were with ex-girlfriend Karen Ross, three children were with Angie Parker.[9] His latest child, a boy named Karma, was born in January 2007 to his fiancée Liz.[10][11] Flav was also once married to a woman named Beverly.[12]

Flavor Flav came to prominence as a founding member of the rap group Public Enemy. In 1984, the group released a track, "Public Enemy #1", which brought them to the attention of Def Jam Records executive Rick Rubin. Rubin initially did not understand Flav's clowning and wanted to sign Chuck D as a solo act; however Chuck D insisted that Flav be signed with them and the two were signed to Def Jam in 1986.[7] The group's first album, Yo! Bum Rush the Show, was released in 1987. Flav served as the comic foil to Chuck D's serious, politically charged style.[6] The group gained much wider fame with their following release, 1988's It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, which went double platinum. By the time the political single "Fight the Power" was issued in 1989, the group had become mainstream superstars. Along with Chuck D, the showman of the group and its promotional voice, Flav stood out among the members of Public Enemy as he often got the fans hyped, appearing on stage and in public wearing big hats and glasses and a large clock dangling from his neck.

The first released track on which Flav rapped solo was "Too Much Posse" on Yo! Bum Rush the Show, though the first hit on which he rapped solo would not come until the 1990s single "911 is a Joke". During Public Enemy's first years of existence, Flav dealt with tensions with group-mate Professor Griff, who never liked Flav's flamboyant stance in what Griff felt to be a serious, politically-challenging group. In 1990, after allegedly making anti-Semitic comments, Professor Griff left Public Enemy.

In 2006, Flav put out his self-titled first solo album. It was released during the second season of Flavor of Love.

After a hiatus from the music scene, Flavor Flav was invited to participate on the VH1 reality show, The Surreal Life. During this show, he developed a relationship with Brigitte Nielsen. Following the conclusion of the show, VH1 gave Flav and Brigitte a show entitled Strange Love, which detailed their globetrotting adventure in love. At the end of Strange Love Brigitte decided to return to her fiancee, Mattia Dessi. Flavor Flav made a show of his very own, called the Flavor of Love.

Flavor of Love, which recently finished its third and final season, is a reality show where Flavor Flav looks for love. The show's success led to a spin-off titled, I Love New York. But confirmed accounts say Flavor Flav was currently engaged before filming Flavor of Love Season Three, and only did it because he had already cashed the check given to him by VH1.

Flav was roasted on Comedy Central. The roast first aired on August 12, 2007.[3] Guests appearing at the roast: Snoop Dogg, Brigitte Nielsen, Jimmy Kimmel, Carrot Top, Lisa Lampanelli, Ice T, Jeff Ross, Katt Williams, Patton Oswalt, Greg Giraldo, and Sommore.

Flav plays Calvester Hill on the MyNetworkTV comedy Under One Roof starring alongside Kelly Perine.

In 2003, Flav appeared in Taking Back Sunday's video for "You're So Last Summer".

In 2004, he appeared in TV spots for the then upcoming second season of Reno 911! on Comedy Central in his signature garb. He sang the Public Enemy song "911 is a Joke".

Flav appeared in the 6th episode of the fifth season of ABC's hit show My Wife and Kids as himself. The episode also featured other rappers Kool Moe Dee, MC Lyte, and Special Ed.

On June 14, 2006, Flav's participation, with WEVR-MRC[4], in the Lisa Tolliver Show celebration of National Safety Month earned kudos from Surgeon General of the United States Richard Carmona.[5][6][7]

Flav appeared in EA Games Def Jam: Fight for NY as a playable character.
Flavor Flav appeared in 2K Sports NBA 2K7 as a playable streetballer in 24/7 Mode and Street Mode.
Flavor Flav appeared in BET's 2007 BET Awards with Public Enemy.
Flavor Flav appears as Lucky in the upcoming film Confessions of a Pit Fighter.
Flav was the guest of honor in Roast of Flavor Flav on Comedy Central (2007)

On the comedy short "Cat" by Stella, Michael Ian Black suggests they name the cat "Flavor Flav" after his grandfather.
Flav has appeared on The Bernie Mac Show during season 3.
Flav appeared on one of Criss Angel's Mindfreak episodes.
Flav was a guest star on Late Night with Conan O'Brien on February 26, 2008.
Flav's signature clock appeared on the Cartoon Network show Chowder (TV series) when the characters, Mung Daal and Chowder, were making a musical food dish and he needed a little "flavor" so he added a clock on a chain.

With Public Enemy

Yo! Bum Rush the Show (1987)
It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (1988)
Fight the Power...Live! (video and album, 1989)

Fear of a Black Planet (1990)
Apocalypse '91...The Enemy Strikes Black (1991)
Greatest Misses 1986-1992 (1992)
Muse Sick-n-Hour Mess Age (1994)
He Got Game (1998)
BTN 2000 (online released mega-mix which initiated PE's leaving Def Jam Records) (1999)
There's A Poison Goin On (1999)
Revolverlution (2002)
There's A Poison Goin On (worldwide re-release via (2004)
Son of a Bush (EP) (released before the 2004 Presidential Election); contained the songs "Son of a Gun", "Get Your Dump Together" and the song featuring Fine Arts Militia (featuring Chuck D) entitled "Twisted Sense of God"
New Whirl Odor (2005)
Rebirth of a Nation (featuring Paris, Guerrilla Funk Recordings) (2006)
How You Sell Soul to a Soulless People Who Sold Their Soul? (2007)

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