R.I.P. Gil Scott-Heron (1949-2011)


The widely-spreading rumors of Gil Scott-Heron‘s death are, sadly, true. Jamie Byng, the Canondale publisher who, as The Guardian reported in February 2010, not only reprinted several volumes of Scott-Heron’s poetry but also made the poet the godfather of one of his sons, confirmed the tragic news on Twitter.

Musician and poet Scott-Heron rose to prominence with his powerful 1970 debut Small Talk at 125th and Lenox, featuring his most famous recording, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.” His politics and his art remained intertwined throughout his life, as in the anti-nuclear weapon song “We Almost Lost Detroit”:

His soulful radicalism inspired the generations that followed, all the way to Kanye West, who sampled “Comment #1″ for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy closer “Who Will Survive in America?”

The poet himself was never completely inactive, though he spent a not inconsiderable time sequestered in the Chelsea Hotel in New York City. He also served two brief jail sentences in the 2000s for drug possession. At that time 1994’s Sprits was the only studio album he’d released since 1982.

But in 2007 Byng facilitated a meeting between the then-incarcerated artist and Richard Russell of XL Recordings, which led to the recording of last year’s fantastic comeback record I’m New Here, and a remix record with Jamie XX (of The XX) just three months ago, featuring the single “I’ll Take Care of You”. Watch the video for that song below, and keep Scott-Heron and his ideas in your thoughts on this holiday weekend.

[Getty Images]

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