Gil Scott-Heron, the celebrated yet outspoken poet, musician, and author, died on Friday, according to his publicist. He was 62 years old.
Scott-Heron’s cause of death remains unknown.
Born in Chicago, Scott-Heron was largely credited as one of the leading influences of hip hop and neo soul. His 1970 debut, Small Talk at 125th and Lenox, was largely critical of middle class America, Black revolutionaries, and American consumerism and featured his spoken-word hit “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”.
Among Scott-Heron’s other accomplishments included his acclaimed 1972 collaborative LP with Brian Jackson, Free Will, his 1978 hit “Angel Dust”, which peaked at #15 on the R&B charts, and an appearance at the No Nukes concerts at Madison Square Garden in 1979. In the 1980s, Scott-Heron also toured extensively with saxophonist Ron Holloway.
Unfortunately, Scott-Heron’s later years were riddled with run-ins with the law. In 2001, he served eight months in prison for possession of cocaine. Then, in 2006, he served 10 months in prison, this time for violating a plea deal on a drug-possession charge by leaving a drug rehabilitation center.
However, within the last 18 months, Scott-Heron had made a comeback of sorts. He released an album entitled I’m New Here via XL Recordings last year, and he followed that up with a collaborative remix LP with Jamie xx. He was also sampled by Kanye West on the final track of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.
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