The three members of Run-D.M.C. grew up in the neighborhood of Hollis in the Queens borough of New York City, USA. After completing high school in 1982, Simmons and McDaniels recruited Mizell to play on the turntables. A year later, they released their first single "Sucker MC's", which was well received, peaking at #15 on the R&B charts. This was followed by other singles such as "Jam Master Jay" and "Hard Times".
The 1988 album Tougher Than Leather lent its name to the band's film that year, which was directed by Rick Rubin and contained special guest performances by the Beastie Boys and Slick Rick. Run-D.M.C.'s executives at Profile Records were unimpressed by the excessive number of times the Def Jam Records logo popped up in the film, which was mostly because of Russell Simmons' involvement with the project.
The group re-invented itself as "gangstas" and released Back from Hell in 1990. The album suffered poor sales. It had two singles, the clean, anti-drug song "Pause", and "The Avenue".
The group enjoyed mainstream success again in 1993 with Down With the King, which cracked Billboard magazine's Top 10. Pete Rock and CL Smooth contributed verses on the first single, "Down With the King". The album's second single, "Ooh, Watch'cha Gonna Do?", failed to match its predecessor's chart success. Other guests featured on the album were Mad Lion, Q-Tip and Tom Morello.
In 1998, Jason Nevins remixed It's Like That and It's Tricky. The remix of It's Like That hit number 1 in the United Kingdom, Germany, and many other European countries. A video was made for It's Like That, although no new footage of Run-D.M.C. appeared in the clip.
In 1999, Run-D.M.C. recorded the theme song for WWE wrestling stable D-Generation X entitled "The Kings".
Although Run-D.M.C. enjoyed plenty of commercial success, the effects of this were not solely positive. In Arts and Letters: An A-to-Z Reference of Writers, Musicians, and Artists of the African American Experience, the article on Run-D.M.C. notes that when their second album, King of Rock was released in 1985, there were also a number of violent incidents at rap concerts. While the media lauded Run-D.M.C. for their music, it also began to focus on "rap as a reflection of violence and drug abuse among young black males." Thus, the group felt torn between their mainstream appeal during the time of negativity in other manifestations of rap music.
2000's to present
In 2000, the group contributed to the album WWF Aggression with their version of the D-Generation X theme song "The Kings".
DMC has recently been featured in the new video game, Guitar Hero: Aerosmith making a cameo in the song "Walk this Way" and "King of Rock".
After group member Jam-Master Jay was shot and killed on October 30 2002, Run-D.M.C. announced their retirement. Rev Run joined Kid Rock's 2008 Rock N Roll Revival Tour performing Its Like That,It's Tricky, You'd B Illin, Run's House, Here We Go,King Of Rock and Walk This Way with Kid Rock.