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Run-DMC DJ slain in recording studio

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Jam Master Jay, the DJ of the pioneering rap group Run-DMC, was shot in the head and killed in a New York recording studio. WABC's Jeff Rossen reports (October 31)
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• Interactive gallery: Reactions to the death of Jam Master Jay 
• Interactive discography: The work of Run-DMC 
• The Run-DMC Web site: Run's House external link Run-DMC external link
Who had more musical influence?

Jam Master Jay
Tupac Shakur
Notorious B.I.G.
Run-DMC on JMJ

He has a little soul, to rock 'n' roll

Every record that he touches turns to gold
He's well conducted, self-instructed His styles were plied, heavily constructed
Mechanically inclined, and if you don't mind
We add spice to your life, time after time
And think about times, where he's a long laster
We rock our rhymes for the Jam-Master.

-- "Jam Master Jammin,"  from the album "King of Rock," 1985

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Police are investigating the shooting death of Jam Master Jay, the DJ of the legendary rap trio Run-DMC.

Jam Master Jay, 37, was shot in the head Wednesday night around 7:30 p.m. in a Queens recording studio, according to police. Another man, Urieco Rinco, 25, was shot in the leg and taken to a hospital, police said.

Investigators have found two .45-caliber shell casings, but no clues to the motive.

Witnesses described the shooter as a young black man in a white sweatsuit or sweatshirt, according to CNN affiliate WABC in New York.

Police said two gunmen were buzzed in to the building, went up to the second-floor studio and shot Jam Master Jay once at close range, WABC reported.

Fans of the group gathered outside the studio Wednesday night and through the day Thursday to pay their respects.

"It's like one of the Beatles died," said fan Ronald Williams. "They were the pioneers of this game as we know it." (Full obituary)

Rap pioneers

Jam Master Jay was born January 21, 1965 as Jason Mizell in the middle-class Hollis neighborhood of Queens, New York, according to the group's Web site. He linked up with Run (Joseph Simmons) and DMC (Darryl McDaniels) -- also from Hollis -- scratching turntables for the two rappers who had just graduated from high school.

A year later, in 1983, the group released their first single, "It's Like That."

Known for their loose Adidas-brand shoes, all-black outfits, and thumping beats, the trio is credited with beginning the current trend of combining rap music and rock 'n' roll in their hit remake of Aerosmith's "Walk this Way" in 1986, teaming up with the band's lead singer Steven Tyler and guitarist Joe Perry.

Run-DMC was also the first rap group to be nominated for a Grammy, and the first rappers to have gold, platinum and multiplatinum albums.

Group avoided feuds

And unlike other rap groups, Run-DMC avoided feuds with other rappers. Run is an ordained minister, DMC overcame alcoholism, and Jam Master Jay was a married father of three children.

Any possible link between Jay's death and a rap war was dismissed by Russell Simmons, the founder of Def Jam records, Run-DMC's original label, and the brother of Joseph Simmons.

"They represented everything good and positive about hip-hop," said Russell Simmons in a statement.

"Before the media rushes to attribute this to East Coast - West Coast violence, they should examine Run-DMC's two decades of contributions and Jam Master Jay's personal character," he said.

"This has nothing more to do with so-called East Coast-West Coast violence than the snipers in Washington did."

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