The Success Story of Gil Scott-Heron, Black Ghetto Citizen and Hip-Hop Ancestor

Gil Scott-Heron has had a tremendous impact on several generations of musicians. He is called one of the progenitors of rap, a brilliant jazz performer and a fighter for justice. How did this legendary singer live and why did the memory of him remain in the hearts of many?

Gil Scott-Heron (Gil Scott Heron) - All about the musician

Today, few people remember the previously famous American poet, writer and philosopher Gil Scott-Herone. However, it is difficult to overestimate influencewhich he rendered to several generations musicians. Scott-Heron is called one of the the progenitors of rap, ingenious jazz performer and a fighter for justice. How did this legendary singer live and why did the memory of him remain in the hearts of many?


Gil Scott-Heron was born in April 1949 in Chicago, Illinois. His mother Bobby Scott was famous opera singer, And the father Gil Heron was Jamaican football player, who in the 1950s became the first black man to play for the Scottish club Celtic. Gil's parents divorcedwhen he was still a child. Therefore, he spent all his childhood with grandmothers Scott Lilly in Jackson, Tennessee. She was active wrestler for civil rights, and was also fond of music. Her influence the boy had indelible: she bought him first piano with a local undertaker and introduced him to the work of a jazz poet Langston Hughes, whose works were reflected in all subsequent work of Gil. He fondly remembered his grandmother in the track "Coming from a Broken Home" from his 2010 debut album "I'm New Here".

Gil Scott-Heron (Gil Scott Heron) in his youth
Gil Scott-Heron (Gil Scott-Heron) in his youth

In high school, Scott-Heron faced daily racial discrimination There were only three black children in the class. He conveyed these experiences in his first volume unpublished poetry when he was only 12 years old. After the death of his grandmother, he moved to New York, where he began to live with his mother. They initially stopped at Bronxwhere Gil has become witness the harshest living conditions for African Americans.

While studying at a New York school, Scott-Heron was introduced to the work of another leading black writer. Leroy Jones, known as Amiri Baraka. Precocious in the Bronx writing talent the boy was recognized as an English teacher, and Gil was recommended a place in Fieldston. From there he got a place in Lincoln University, Pennsylvania, where Scott-Heron met the musician Brian Jacksonwith whom he created the group "Black & Blues". Subsequently, Jackson will be an indispensable member of Gil's group and his true friend. In his second year at university, in 1968, Scott-Heron dropped outto write your first detective novel entitled "Vulture"set in the ghetto. When it was published two years later, Gil decided to record the disc of the same name.

Gil Scott-Heron (Gil Scott Heron) in 1970
Gil Scott-Heron in the 1970s

Despite the fact that Scott-Heron never graduated, he was accepted to seminars in Literature at Johns Hopkins University, where in 1972 he received master's degree and started teach literature at the University of Columbia in Washington DC. In parallel, Gil continued to make music.

creative success

At Lincoln University, Gil meets Bob Thiele and decides to conquer show business. He reads passages from his book of poetry "Small Talk at 125th & Lennox" with musical accompaniment by Bob Thiel and other jazz musicians, including bassist Ron Carter. Composition was the most important track "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised"in which a young musician raises issues terrible living conditions in cities, social inequality and injustice towards the black population. His second record Pieces of a Man came out in 1971. The highlight of the album was the track "Lady Day and John Coltrane", in which the manner of the musician's performance was more like a traditional one.

After that, Scott-Heron writes "Winter in America" for the label "Strata-East Records". Later he begins to collaborate with "Arista Records". His tracks took 29th on the R&B charts in 1975. The success of his first two albums released for Arista Records was also credited Brian Jackson, co-author of both records and a talented musician. However, Jackson leaves the label in 1978 and leaves Scott-Heron in the capable hands of the producer Malcolm Cecil. Gil recorded a single with him "The Bottle", which achieves incredible popularity, peaking at number 15 on the R&B charts.

In the 80s, Scott-Heron began to raise sharp political problems in your creativity. His subsequent singles, including R&B hits "B movie" and "Reron", were directed against the conservative policies of President Ronald Reagan and criticized his re-election campaign.

However, in 1985 Scott-Heron fired from Arista Records and he stops recording tracks, although he continues to give concerts. In the same year he participated in the recording of the single "Let Me See Your ID", in which his famous phrase will sound:

"When I first heard that there was trouble in the Middle East, I thought they were talking about Pittsburgh (a city in the USA)."

Singer compares U.S. governments policy on race relations in South Africa, raises the problem of discrimination by skin color. In 1993 he released an album Spirits, whose first track contains criticism rap artists of the time. Scott-Heron is known as "godfather of rap" and is considered one of founders of this genre.

Gil Scott-Heron (Gil Scott Heron) on the cover of the disc
Gil Scott-Heron on the cover of Free Will, 1972

Prison, drugs and recent albums

In 2001, Scott-Heron was imprisoned for storage prohibited substances. It came out a year later, and in 2003 the BBC began filming documentary film about the musician. However, Gil again found the same substances, and he again ended up in prison for six months.

July 5, 2006 Scott-Heron was sentenced to four years in New York State Prison and sent to rehabilitation center for dependent people. Gil managed to leave him only later a couple of months. Sentenced until 2009, Scott-Heron was on parole released in May 2007.

After the artist's release spoke in restaurants and nightclubs in New York, worked on new albums and resumed writing a book "Last Day Off". In 2007 he signed the contract with label "XL Recordings".

Gil collaborated with the company until early 2011, when the acclaimed album was released. "I'm New Here" and his remix "We're New Here". In the same year, Scott-Heron died in a New York hospital, immediately after returning from a concert in Europe. At that moment he was 62 years old.

Gil Scott-Heron (Gil Scott Heron) in 2000
Gil Scott-Heron in the 2000s

The work of Scott-Heron rendered colossal influence on writers and musicians, from indie rockers to rappers. His works engendered new musical genressuch as hip-hop and neo-soul. Scott-Heron tracks remain today popular and inspire many people to start a musical career.

How Sergey Zakharov's career after prison: the complicated story of the famous baritone of the USSR

The Life of the Pop Singer Sergey Zakharov Estrada appeared in the 1960s as a unique style of Soviet song. Compared to modern Russian pop music, it...

"Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain": the last song sung by the King Presley

All about the song "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain": when and by whom it was performed, history and covers Losing an idol is always a very traumatic event, but how...

Lemmy Kilmister and his best movie roles

All about Lemmy Kilmister: band success, movie roles, biopic about the legend Rock stars who have made music their life and made huge contributions to the genre have shown...
Related Articles

The famous hit of the band "Zero," the clip to which everyone has seen

History of the song "I'm Coming, Smoking" by the band "Zero": interesting facts, clip "Song about unrequited love for the Motherland" is an album with unconditional hits, which is among the iconic...

She gave us a childhood: we remember the legendary Yelena Kamburova

Everything about Elena Kamburova: childhood, development of creativity, fame Not every viewer can appreciate the artist's soulful contribution to creativity, but there are people who understand...

Cool covers of Russian rock hits and one beautiful parody - Top 6

"Stellar" covers of famous Russian rock songs Covers are now living a "new life" in the music business. Some covers become so famous that they outshine the original compositions. So.

Where are the Zemlyane, a band whose hits were sung by the entire USSR?

All about the band "Zemlyane": history, creative work, hits The bands that started their history in the times of the Soviet Union have a rich history. Now you can find not so...

British rockers adored in the USSR

Top British Rockers Adored in the USSR Despite all the bans and difficulties caused by "getting" records with this kind of music, in the Soviet Union foreign rock and roll simply...