The Adidas Superstar was first released in 1969 as a shoe for basketball players. Technologically it was cutting edge with a fully leather top and a rubber "shell" toe that resembled a seashell. The shoe quickly caught on amongst basketball players in the NCAA and NBA most notably legendary Los Angeles Laker Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and within the next few years about 75% of all the ballplayers were wearing Superstars.
Jerry West wearing Adidas Superstars
It probably was so popular with ballplayers because of the high heel that made the players even taller. So with more than half the NBA wearing Adidas Superstars and the entailing television exposure it didn't take long for the shoe to start appearing on the streets as well with the rise of b-boy culture and later as a staple of hip-hop fashion worldwide with the release of RUN DMC's 1986 song 'My Adidas' and the subsequent endorsement deal that followed the year after. All this was the beginning of one the most iconic and popular sneakers made to this day.
The song came about as a response to an anti-sneaker song named 'Sneaker Felon' by an older gentleman who went by the rap name of Dr. Dreas who was an actual doctor, a poet, play writer and amateur musician. Dr. Dreas was expressing the view of the older generation of blacks who disapproved of the emerging b-boy culture which they associated with criminal youths.
So the RUN-DMC song came about as a positive response to that criticism: "It was a song that was about our sneakers, but it was bigger than just talking about how many pairs of sneakers we had," DMC told MTV News. "It came from the place of people would look at the b-boys, the B-girls and go, 'Oh, those are the people that cause all the problems in here.' And, 'Those young people are nothing but troublemakers and those young people don't know nothing.' So they was judging the book by its cover, without seeing what was inside of it."
walked through concert doors
and roamed all over coliseum floors
I stepped on stage, at Live Aid
All the people gave and the poor got paid
me and my Adidas do the illest things
we like to stomp out pimps with diamond rings
we slay all suckers who perpetrate
and lay down law from state to state
The concert led to a $1 million dollar shoe deal for Run-DMC
The endorsement came about when their co-manager Lyor Cohen brought Adidas executive Angelo Anastasi to one of Run-DMC's concert's to witness the segment of the show when they asked the audience to raise their sneakers in the air before launching into the song 'My Adidas'.
Later on, the tour more Adidas executives were invited to see this display of sneaker crazy fans holding their shoes in the air at the biggest show on the tour at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The group then recorded a home video of themselves doing an acapella version of 'My Adidas' and were they shouted 'Give us a million dollars!' at the end. The executives must have been mighty impressed because Adidas then gave RUN-DMC a one million dollar endorsement deal which was an unprecedented amount for an artist collaboration deal.
Adidas Brougham Jam-Master Jay shoe
By 1988, four special Run-DMC shoes had been released. The high-top Eldorado and Fleetwood, plus the low-top Brougham, were named after the group’s favorite car the Cadillac, while the Ultrastar was a take on the Superstar with an elasticated tongue for easy laceless wear.
Run-DMC's Adidas Bum Rush The Show Billboard On A Truck
After the original craze sales did decline as expected but the shoe made an extraordinary comeback in 2001 when Adidas launched the Originals line and the Superstar II remains a bestseller to this day and can be found in shoe stores worldwide.