Run-DMC, Fanatics team up for sports gear line

It's been 30 years since Run-DMC was at its height, but the group once dubbed "the Beatles of hip-hop" by Rolling Stone is still plenty relevant.

The latest evidence was on Fifth Avenue in New York City on Wednesday, as Fanatics -- the largest retailer of licensed sports merchandise -- announced a deal with Run-DMC that takes NFL, NBA and NHL colors and logos and incorporates the famous Run-DMC logo with its familiar bars and font for use on hats, T-shirts and sweatshirts.

"This isn't just for the people who lived in the '80s and '90s," said Raphael Peck, president of Fanatics Branded, the company's in-house merchandise division. "We've found that millennials are tapping into nostalgia now. There are 14-, 15- and 16-year-old kids who know who Run-DMC is."

I sat down with Darryl "DMC" McDaniels, who along with Joseph "Reverend Run" Simmons -- the younger brother of Def Jam cofounder Russell Simmons -- and the late Jason "Jam Master Jay" Mizell made up the group.

That Run-DMC logo, which is from your 1986 single "My Adidas," is so iconic. Who made it?

DMC: There was this art director that was with Russell and Def Jam named Cey Adams -- he was in his early 20s and came up with it. I tell people it's the third-most iconic logo -- McDonald's, Coke and then us.

Might be a couple more there, but as a kid of the '80s, that logo was everywhere and it's instantaneously recognizable.

DMC: I'm shocked by how cool it still is.

True that you guys did not get paid by Adidas for the song?

DMC: Not before we put it out, but the way it went down was Adidas had a board meeting or something and they couldn't figure out why their Superstar shoe was selling like it was with not much advertising and they knew that [Kareem Abdul-] Jabbar wasn't doing that much for them. Some young kid said, "You guys haven't heard of Run-DMC?" Next thing we knew, the guy who was running Adidas North America, Angelo Anastasio, was at our concert at Madison Square Garden. And Jay goes to me, "Hey, D, show them your feet." And I raise my Adidas shoes in the air and 20,000 people do the same. A couple days later, we had a $1 million deal with Adidas, and they also paid for tour support, which included our buses and travel.


DMC: That's not all. They sent us crates and crates of shoes. We took what we wanted to take and then our crew would just line up until they were all gone.

Why this sports collaboration?

DMC: People have already been saying, "I run this town" and "I run that town." We thought it was cool to team up our iconic logo that spans across cultures and get them into cities with team colors and logos.