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Now Playing to pay tribute to Gil Scott-Heron

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Producer Will Producer Will | 12:39 UK time, Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Gil Scott Heron


A visionary master of the arts, the Godfather of Rap and inspiration to thousands, Gil Scott-Heron touched everyone he met and meant so much to others who never even shared a room with him.

Born in Chicago, he grew up in Jackson, Tennessee, before moving to New York. He is best known as a poet and his musical collaborations helped to pave the way for hip-hop and neo-soul in the ‘70s and ‘80s. His last work was album I’m New Here.

The sad news last weekend has been met with a flood of online sympathy and words of condolence.

“Gil was not perfect in his own life. But neither is anyone else. And he judged no one.

“He had a fierce intelligence, and a way with words which was untouchable; an incredible sense of humour and a gentleness and humanity that was unique to him,” just some of the words from Richard Russell, XL label manager and producer of Heron’s last album. More on Russell’s last conversation with Heron and thoughts on the man.

On Heron’s official site there is a short video of him chatting to friend Jamie Byng – a fuller version of the film is going to be released later this year.

On Twitter, Snoop Dogg posted: “#rip to 1 of tha greats gil scott heron.” 

Ghostface Killah – “Salute Mr. Gil Scott-Heron for his wisdom and poetry! May he Rest in Paradise. #Respect.”

Eminem – “RIP Gil Scott-Heron. He influenced all of hip-hop.” 

But go to Billboard for a long list of other Twitter tributes, or Mashable for the top five most popular YouTube videos to remember Gil Scott-Heron by.


On Heron’s official sites comments were left such as:

“Don’t usually comment about anything. I find it futile. Who listens anyway. But GilI still have his infamous album “Winter In America” I purchases it when it was first released. That’s been so many years ago.I still listen to it when I want to bridge the gap. He was unique. A gifted artist. I’m sorry to hear of his passing. I extend my heartfelt condolences to those who will miss him most.”

“I am grateful to the universe to have had the spirit and soul of Gil Scott-Heron for as long as we did. As long as we speak his name he will never be forgotten. When ever I hear your voice, your music my heart smiles. I LOVE YOU and welcome your spirit as I meditate and pray. I know you knew you were loved. I will see you next lifetime.”


On Now Playing this Friday we are going to be paying tribute to the legend that is Gil Scott-Heron, by dedicating the playlist to the master of wordplay.

Which tracks sum up his work best? Which artists have been most influenced by his work? What do you think would be a fitting tribute?

Leave a comment on this blog post, join in the discussion on Facebook or add to our Gil Scott-Heron Spotify playlist.


  • Comment number 1.

    I studied American Protest songs as part of my ongoing History degree. Apart from Gil Scott-Heron's "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" the song that struck me the most was "The Message" by Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five. To me it is Gil's lyrically influence that helps make it so good. Like TRWNBT it is an example of frustration with AMerican culture and society and it documents the tragically short life of Young Black American. Without Gil Scott-Heron it may never have been written.

  • Comment number 2.

    i don't know alot about him, but i understand from listening to other groups such as Parliament-Funkadelic that there was a strand of music that pre-saged what might be termed oil-crisis funk....the walls were closing in, the streets were getting dirtier...
    i think you can trace a line from Sly Stone's Riot album in 1971, even Marvin was getting socially aware ad asking whats going wrong?....there was a definite theme in the bands with something to say around the time 71-74. i wonder if this is worth investigating musically?



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