Gill Scott Heron, influential singer-songwriter and poet died Friday at age 62 in New York City. He reported died in the afternoon at St. Luke’s Hospital after becoming sick upon returning from a trip to Europe. Gil Scott-Heron helped lay the groundwork for rap by fusing minimalistic percussion, political expression and spoken-word poetry on songs such as “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”. This timeless song has become a phrase in the culture lexicon.
Scott-Heron was known for work that reflected the fury of black America in the post-civil rights era and also spoke to the social and political disparities in the country. His songs often had incendiary titles — “Home is Where the Hatred Is,” or “Whitey on the Moon,” and through spoken word and song, he tapped the frustration of the masses.
In a 2008 interview with New York magazine, he said he had been living with HIV for years, but he still continued to perform and put out music; his last album, which came out this year, was a collaboration with artist Jamie xx, “We’re Still Here,” a reworking of Scott-Heron’s acclaimed “I’m New Here,” which was released in 2010.
Scott-Heron was born in Chicago on April 1, 1949. He was raised in Jackson, Tennessee, and in New York before attending college at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. Before turning to music, he was a novelist, at age 19, with the publication of “The Vulture,” a murder mystery. He also was the author of “The Nigger Factory,” a social satire.