Celebrated poet, musician and author Gil Scott-Heron passed away today at the age of 62 as a result of yet unknown causes. Scott-Heron’s death was reportedly confirmed by the legendary spoken word artist’s publisher Jamie Byng via Twitter with the tweet reading, “Just heard the very sad news that my dear friend and one of the most inspiring people I’ve ever met, the great Gil Scott-Heron, died today.”
Often regarded as one of the leaders and chief influences in the precursory stages of hip hop, Gil Scott-Heron helped to define a turbulent time for African-Americans and black militarism in the 1970s via his well-known works such as Pieces Of A Man and Winter In America. His politically charged poem and song “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” is perhaps Scott-Heron’s most notable work as the 1971 single from Pieces Of A Man has been sampled by hip hop artists and often quoted by many.
As news of Scott-Heron’s passing rippled through cyberspace, rap artists who no doubt saw the poet as a hero offered touching words in his memory. Talib Kweli mentioned several references to his connection to Scott-Heron and offered a loving tribute in a series of tweets from his Twitter account. “Wow. The rest of my night I’m gonna listen to Gil Scot Heron. We love you brother. We will miss you. RIP.” Talib went on to add, “I met Gil Scot Heron at SOBs in 1993, I went to see him perform. He completely influenced me as an artist.” A quick glance at Kweli’s account will reveal other loving anecdotes from the rapper.
Slaughterhouse rapper Joell Ortiz also tweeted his memories of Gil Scott-Heron. “Seen Gil Scott Heron at Joe’s Pub when I was a kid. Prince was there,” remarked Ortiz. Producer Just Blaze could barely address the news via his Twitter account. “Terrible news to get while on stage. No one in my family died but gil scot was … ah forget it. Gonna finish this show,” said the beat maker. Public Enemy front man Chuck D added, “RIP GSH..and we do what we do and how we do because of you.And to those that don’t know tip your hat with a hand over your heart & recognize.” Chuck D also revealed via his Twitter account that he was to be featured on an upcoming project with Scott-Heron.
Gil Scott Heron’s 2010 album I’m New Here was released to critical acclaim and signaled a resurgence of art from the poet as his much publicized struggles with drug addiction and legal problems almost overshadowed his legacy. Scott-Heron leaves behind 15 studio albums, 11 compilation albums and 9 live recordings.
R.I.P. to the great Gil Scott-Heron. Your words will live on forever.