Seminal American artist Gil Scott Heron has passed away at the age of 62 following a short illness.
Gil Scott Heron was born into a generation of African-American people radicalised by the Civil Rights struggle. Reading widely, the young poet would uncover a host of influences ranging from Langston Hughes to John Coltrane.
Inspired by doses of jazz and funk, Gil Scott Heron’s seminal 70s output arguably laid the groundwork for rap. A heavy beat would be followed by his unmistakeable voice, intoning often quite radical lyrics.
Tracks such as ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’ remain touchstones, while ‘The Bottle’ is an enduring jazz-funk classic.
Continuing to push himself, Gil Scott Heron tackled subjects such as nuclear power, Apartheid and more. However if is often the more tender, autobiographical works which stick out, such as the paean to the jazz age ‘Lady Day And John Coltrane’ or even the heart breaking tale of a father ‘Pieces Of A Man’.
Continually struggling with drug abuse, Gil Scott Heron was thought lost to the music scene after being given a heavy jail sentence at the start of the Millennium. However after serving his time the New York based artist re-emerged with the stunning comeback album ‘I’m New Here’.
Informed by his spell in prison, it came also to channel the thoughts of an ageing artist in a continually changing America. Sampling elements of his past work, it served to spark new interest in a provocative artist.
British producer Jamie xx remixed ‘I’m New Here’ with the resulting ‘We’re New Here’ collection pushing Gil Scott Heron’s music back on the dancefloor.
However it seems that the unlikely revival has been cut short. BBC News reports that Gil Scott Heron began feeling unwell after a trip to Europe, and after undergoing hospital treatment in New York passed away following a short illness.
More on this story as it comes in.