The day Coolio came to Sunderland, playing a free gig at The Glass Spider: Remembering rapper after death aged 59

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Tributes have been pouring in to US rapper Coolio, and the artist is being fondly remembered around the world – including in Sunderland, where he once thrilled fans at a free gig.

The musician, whose real name was Artis Leon Ivey Jr and who was responsible for 1990s hit song Gangsta’s Paradise, died on Wednesday, September 28, aged 59.

The multi-platinum selling artist was one of a number of top performers who came to The Glass Spider in Green Terrace, Sunderland, in May 2007.

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The venue, which was run by Wylam Leisure, and is now occupied by Life of Riley, had been making a name for itself on the live music scene.


Fans packed in to see Coolio perform the likes of Exercise Yo Mind, Geto Highlites and his chart-topping Gangsta's Paradise, and there are various anecdotes of him mingling with audience members after the show.

Where you there? We’d love to hear your memories of the gig.


Hollywood actress Michelle Pfeiffer has led tributes to Coolio.

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The Glass Spider was in Green Terrace, Sunderland.The Glass Spider was in Green Terrace, Sunderland.
The Glass Spider was in Green Terrace, Sunderland.

He recorded the song for the 1995 film Dangerous Minds, starring Pfeiffer, and it went on to become one of the most successful rap songs of all time.

The track topped the US Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks and won Coolio the Grammy award for best rap solo performance in 1996.

Pfeiffer, 64, said she was “heartbroken” to hear the news of his death, adding that she remembered him as “nothing but gracious” when they worked together.

“Heartbroken to hear of the passing of the gifted artist @coolio,” she wrote on Instagram, sharing a clip of the film featuring the track.

File photo dated 23/1/2009 of Coolio, who has died aged 59.File photo dated 23/1/2009 of Coolio, who has died aged 59.
File photo dated 23/1/2009 of Coolio, who has died aged 59.

“A life cut entirely too short.

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“I remember him being nothing but gracious. 30 years later I still get chills when I hear the song.

“Sending love and light to his family. Rest in Power, Artis Leon Ivey Jr.”

Coolio’s manager at Trinity Artists International, Sheila Finegan, confirmed the death to the PA news agency.

“We are saddened by the loss of our dear friend and client, Coolio, who passed away this afternoon,” the agency said in a statement.

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“He touched the world with the gift of his talent and will be missed profoundly.

“Thank you to everyone worldwide who has listened to his music and to everyone who has been reaching out regarding his passing.

“Please have Coolio’s loved ones in your thoughts and prayers.”

The rapper was found unresponsive on the bathroom floor of a friend’s house in Los Angeles, according to US media outlet TMZ.

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His other well-known songs included C U When U Get There and he had also delighted followers with his passion in the kitchen, releasing his recipe book Cookin’ With Coolio in 2009.

As well as for his successful music career, he became well known in the UK for his appearances on Channel 4 reality show Big Brother.

The rapper came third in the sixth series of UK Celebrity Big Brother in 2009, losing out to broadcaster Terry Christian, who was the runner-up, and presenter and model Ulrika Jonsson, who won.

But along with Jonsson he went on to join the cast of Ultimate Big Brother the following year in 2010, the last series of the show to air on Channel 4.

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Jonsson told PA that his death was a “shock” but the pair had shared “so many laughs” together.

“I spent a fair bit of time with Coolio – he was a misogynist, broke wind a lot; he fancied himself as a cook but my God, we had so many laughs,” she said.

The rapper was born in Pennsylvania, but later moved to Compton, California, where he released his first single in 1987.

Gangsta’s Paradise was also parodied by US musical comedian Weird Al Yankovic as Amish Paradise, though at the time it was claimed that Coolio had not given him permission to do so.

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However, Coolio stated in interviews that the pair had since made amends.

Yankovic paid his respects to Coolio with a short tribute on social media.

Sharing a picture of the pair embracing, he wrote: “RIP Coolio.”

Widely credited with combining the world of mainstream pop music with hip-hop, Coolio became a familiar voice on LA radio after leaving college, but his career as an artist took off after his collaboration with WC and the Maad Circle on the 1991 album Ain’t A Damn Thang.

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His other credits in the world of television included a cameo in TV’s Phat Beach, a role in 1997’s Batman And Robin and he provided the theme tune to teen comedy Kenan And Kel.

After news of his death broke, officials at Wrigley Field in Chicago played the hit song as well as Coolio’s Fantastic Voyage throughout the stadium, as the home town Cubs hosted the Philadelphia Phillies.

Coolio was nominated for five other Grammys during a career that began in the late 1980s.

Heavyweights from the rap world, including Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube and MC Hammer, paid their respects after the news was shared on social media.

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Former NWA star Ice Cube said he had witnessed Coolio’s “grind to the top of the industry” in his own tribute.

“This is sad news,” the rapper and actor wrote on Twitter.

“I witnessed first hand this man’s grind to the top of the industry. Rest In Peace @Coolio.”

MC Hammer described Coolio as “one of the nicest dudes I’ve known” as he shared a picture of the pair together with Tupac and Snoop.

Roots drummer Questlove, whose real name is Ahmir Thompson, posted a black-and-white photo of Coolie alongside the words: “Peaceful Journey Brother”.

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Flavor Flav, founding member of influential rap outfit Public Enemy, described the late artist as “the West Coast Flavor Flav”.

He added: “He loved telling everyone that. We was supposed to perform together this Tuesday. #RIP my friend.”

A tribute also came from Simply Red’s Mick Hucknall, who recalled singing Gangsta’s Paradise with Coolio on the French music TV show Taratata in the 1990s.

“He was a joy to hang with,” he said.

“One of the nice guys. Still play his fine album It Takes A Thief to this day.”

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