Peter Dougherty, a TV executive credited with bringing hip-hop to MTV as the co-creator of Yo! MTV Raps, passed away October 12th following a heart attack at his home in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, The New York Times reports. Dougherty was 59.
Dougherty was working in the on-air promotions department of MTV in the mid-Eighties when he suggested that the still-growing music network create a program that focused on hip-hop culture. Dougherty was a staple of New York’s downtown scene, befriending artists like Beastie Boys and Rick Rubin. “He knew everybody, everybody knew him,” early MTV exec and current Viacom entertainment president Doug Herzog told the New York Times. “People like Peter were always pushing: ‘Let’s be hipper, more cutting edge. What’s the new thing?'”
Dougherty and fellow on-air promotions co-worker Ted Demme were eventually given the green light to produce a pilot for Yo! MTV Raps, which became an instant success: The debut episode was the then-highest-rated program in MTV history, and demand for new episodes forced MTV to expand the series from a weekly show hosted by Fab 5 Freddy to a daily program with Ed Lover and Doctor Dre. Demme passed away in 2002.
“He was there when things were happening – not just one thing, but all the big things,” Beastie Boys’ Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz told the New York Times of Dougherty, who also served as director of the group’s “Hold It Now, Hit It” video in 1986. After his time at MTV, Doughtery moved to London to work for MTV Europe before returning stateside in the past decade.