Van McCoy, 39, a songwriter, record producer and performer who gave the world "The Hustle" and several other hit records, died Friday at Englewood Hospital in Englewood, N.J. He suffered a heart attack at his home there on June 29 and was in a coma until his death.
Mr. McCoy, a Washington native who graduated from Dunbar High School and attended Howard University, was widely known as a composer and producer for several years before he made "The Hustle" in 1975. The record, which sold over 1 million copies is regarded as a landmark in the disco movement.
A critic at The New York Times called it "the biggest dance record of the '70s and the biggest disc of that genre in nine years." Mr. McCoy's other hits included "disco Baby," which also went to the top of the charts.
Having worked as a producer with such leading singers as the Shirelles, Gladys Knight, Aretha Franklin Roberta Flack, Vikki Carr and Peaches and Herb, Mr. McCoy became a star in his own right. He played Lincoln Center in New York City and toured Japan, the Philippines and Italy.
Washington proclaimed a "day" in his honor and the discotheque of the Foxtrappe Club here was named after him.
In an interview with The Washington Post in 1976, Mr. McCoy said "shocked is the best word for the ways I feel" about fame as a performer. "I don't think any of us were aware at the time we went in to cut "The Hustle' that it was going to be as big as it was. I suppose I thought it would be a good album to cut because the dance was just beginning in the discotheques just starting to catch on. It wasn't as big as The Bump, but it was something people were starting to get into to get involved in."
But Mr. McCoy's most lasting contribution may have been as a producer and composer.
Mr. McCoy began taking piono lessons from his mother when he was 4. With his older brother, Norman, who played the violin, he began to give concerts for small gatherings when he was a child. He wrote his first song when he was 12. While at Howard, where he majored in psychology, he sang with a group called The Starlighters.
He left college in his second year to go to Philadelphia to start a record company with an uncle. His next stop was New York and a career as a producer and composer. He became well known in musical circles and his reputation began to go far beyond that.
Among his television appearances were 12 guest spots on the "Tonight" show. He also worked in Hollywood.
In recent years, Mr. McCoy had been associated with Charles Kipps in McCoy-Kipps Productions, a record company.
His awards included a "Grammy" for "The Hustle" in 1975.
Mr. McCoy, who maintained a home in Washington, is survived by his father, Norman S. MrCoy Sr., his brother, Norman Jr., and a sister, Mattie Taylor, all of Washington. CAPTION: Picture 1, VAN McCOY; Picture 2, Mr. mrCoy, at work composing music. Besides "The Hustle," his other hits included "Disco Baby." The Washington Post