Gill Scott Heron, Music Pioneer Dies After European Trip, RIP

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Published: May 28, 2011

The musician Gil Scott-Heron, who helped lay the groundwork for rap by fusing minimalistic percussion, political expression and spoken-word poetry on songs like “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” died Friday.

A friend, Doris C. Nolan, who answered the telephone listed for his Manhattan recording company, said Mr. Scott-Heron, 62, died in the afternoon at St. Luke’s Hospital after becoming sick upon returning from a European trip.

“We’re all sort of shattered,” she said.

Mr. Scott-Heron was sometimes referred to as the Godfather of Rap, a title he rejected.

“If there was any individual initiative that I was responsible for it might have been that there was music in certain poems of mine, with complete progression and repeating ‘hooks,’ which made them more like songs than just recitations with percussion,” he wrote in the introduction to his 1990 collection of poems, “Now and Then.”

He referred to his signature mix of percussion, politics and performed poetry as bluesology or Third World music. But then he said it was simply “black music or black American music.”

“Because Black Americans are now a tremendously diverse essence of all the places we’ve come from and the music and rhythms we brought with us,” he wrote.

Mr. Scott-Heron recorded the song that would make him famous, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” in the 1970s in Harlem. He followed up that recording with more than a dozen albums, initially collaborating with the musician Brian Jackson. His most recent album was “I’m New Here,” which he began recording in 2007. It was released in 2010.


One response to “Gill Scott Heron, Music Pioneer Dies After European Trip, RIP

  1. I love that photo of Gil Scott Heron. His face shows that he’d been through a lot. Gil Scott Heron was the beginning of my political awakening in the 70s. Listening to “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” over and over reached me in way nothing else had. “Pieces of a Man” broke my heart. I’m glad I was exposed to his work.


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