Stanford University The Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute
Gil Scott-Heron, Poet and Voice of Protest Culture, Dies at 62
June 01, 2011

Gil Scott-Heron, 62, was a poet and musician who helped lay the foundation for modern day rap and hip hop culture by fusing minimalistic percussion, political expression and spoken-word poetry. His most famous song, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” expresses Scott-Heron's ability to captivate and articulate the angst of the 1970s black protest culture. Scott-Heron died May 27 at a New York City hospital after becoming sick upon returning from a European trip. The cause of death is not immediately known.

Born in Chicago on 1 April 1949, Mr. Scott-Heron grew up in Tennessee and New York. He attended Lincoln University in Pennsylvania and wrote his first novel, "The Vulture," at age 19. Though initially his interest was in literature and English, Gil turned to music in search of a wider audience. During the 1970s Scott-Heron was considered a prodigy although his reputation never exceeded cult popularity. Between 1970 and 1982, Gil recorded 13 albums, and was linked with music executive Clive Davis.

In later years Gil Scott-Heron's career and popularity declined due to drug use and convictions. He served a sentence at Rikers Island in New York for parole violation. Though his reputation was irreparably tarnished, his contributions to black culture cannot be over-looked.

Gil Scott-Heron is survived by his son, Rumal; and two daughters, Gia Scott-Heron and Che Newton.

To listen to his work click here

Home  |  About Us  |  Contact Us  |  Copyright Information  |  The King Center  |  RSS