In 1990, rapper MC Hammer had a worldwide hit with “U Can’t Touch This.” But it was possibly an even bigger hit in Detroit, where it became the theme song for the Detroit Pistons on their drive to a second consecutive NBA championship.
But Hammer says that his “intimate relationship” with Detroit goes back even further than that, to the mid-’70s when he was Oakland Athletics’ owner Charles O. Finley’s personal assistant.
“When Willie Horton joined the A’s, I would come back with him (to Detroit) and enjoy Detroit and Willie would barbecue for everybody and cook for everybody,” recalls Hammer (real name Stanley Burrell), 47. “So I got to know the city as a teenager. I just loved the feel of the city since I came there as a 14, 15-year-old.”
And Hammer adds, his association with the Pistons’ Bad Boys team of the era also precedes his biggest hit.
“By the time I became MC Hammer (in 1986) and the Bad Boys embraced ‘U Can’t Touch This,’ I had met John Salley,” Hammer notes. “Isiah (Thomas) and I had become friends. We had that connection, so it wasn’t like they just heard about MC Hammer when ‘U Can’t Touch This’ came out.”
Though his legacy includes a well-publicized bankruptcy filing in 1996, Hammer remains a prodigious performer with a reality show, “Hammertime,” on the A&E Network and three albums on the way — “DanceJamtheMusic,” which he says will be out “in 30 to 45 days,” a “Hammer Family Christmas Album” the Burrell clan will record next month and a 20th anniversary “sequel” to 1990’s multi-platinum “Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ’Em,” simply called “Don’t Hurt ’Em,” that’s due in early January. He's also in the midst of writing an autobiography he hopes to have out before year's end.
MC Hammer, Coolio and Tone Loc perform at 7:30 p.m. Friday (Aug. 14) at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township. Tickets are $35.50 pavilion, $10 lawn. Call (248) 377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.
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