Gil Scott-Heron (born April 1 1949) is an American poet, musician, and author known primarily for his late 1960s and early 1970s work as a spoken word soul performer and his collaborative work with musician Brian Jackson. He is associated with African American militant activism, and is best known for his poem and song "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised"; and for writing "Home is Where The Hatred Is" an eerie account of drug use that was a hit by the grammy-award winning R&B singer Esther Phillips in 1972. Scott-Heron's father, Giles "Gil" Heron (nicknamed "The Black Arrow") was a Jamaican football player who, in the 1950s, was the first ever black player to play for Glasgow's Celtic Football Club.
Scott-Heron attended Lincoln University because it was the college of choice by his biggest influence: Langston Hughes. It was at Lincoln University that Gil met Brian Jackson and they formed the band Black & Blues. After about two years at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, Scott-Heron took a year off to write a novel, The Vulture and The Nigger Factory. He returned to New York City, settling in Chelsea, Manhattan, which was a multiracial and multicultural neighborhood. The Vulture was published in 1970 and well received. Although Gil never received his undergraduate degree, he has a Masters in Creative Writing from Johns Hopkins University.
Scott-Heron's 1971 album Pieces of a Man used more conventional song structures than the loose, spoken-word feel of Small Talk. He was joined by Johnny Pate (conductor), Brian Jackson (piano and electric piano), Ron Carter (bass and electric bass), Bernard Pretty Purdie (drums), Burt Jones (electric guitar), and Hubert Laws (flute and saxophone), with Thiele producing again. Scott-Heron's third album, Free Will, was released in 1972. Jackson, Purdie, Laws, Knowles, and Saunders all returned to play on Free Will and were joined by Jerry Jemmott (bass), David Spinozza (guitar), and Horace Ott (arranger and conductor).
1974 saw another LP collaboration with Brian Jackson, the critically acclaimed opus Winter in America, with Bob Adams on drums and Danny Bowens on bass. The album contained Scott-Heron's most cohesive material and featured more of Jackson's creative input than his previous albums had. Winter in America has been regarded by many critics as the two musicians most artistic effort. The following year, Scott-Heron and Jackson also released Midnight Band: The First Minute of a New Day. A live album, It's Your World, followed in 1976 and a recording of spoken poetry, The Mind of Gil Scott-Heron, was released in 1979. Another hit success followed with the hit single "Angel Dust", which he recorded as a single with producer Malcolm Cecil. "Angel Dust" peaked at #15 on the R&B charts in 1978.
In 1979, Scott-Heron played at the No Nukes concerts at Madison Square Garden. The concerts were organized by Musicians United for Safe Energy to protest the use of nuclear energy following the Three Mile Island accident. Scott-Heron's song "We Almost Lost Detroit", written about a previous accident at a nuclear facility, was included in the No Nukes album of concert highlights. During the 1980s, Scott-Heron continued recording, releasing Reflections in 1981 and Moving Target in 1982. Scott-Heron was a frequent critic of President Ronald Reagan and his conservative policies.
Scott-Heron was dropped by Arista Records in 1985 and quit recording, though he continued to tour. He also appeared in the Sun City (album) track, "Let Me See Your ID" in 1985. In 1993, he signed to TVT Records and released Spirits, an album that included the seminal track Message to the Messengers. The first track on the album was criticized the rap artists of the day. Scott-Heron is known in many circles as "the godfather of rap and is widely considered to be one of the genre's founding fathers. Given the political consciousness that lies at the foundation of his work, he can also be called a founder of political rap. Message to the Messengers was a plea for the new generation of rappers to speak for change rather than perpetuate the current social situation, and to be more articulate and artistic:
He has since begun performing live again, starting with a show at SOBs in New York on September 13, 2007. On stage, he stated that he and his musicians were working on a new album and that he had resumed writing a book titled The Last Holiday (previously on long-term hiatus) about Stevie Wonder and his successful attempt to have Martin Luther King's birthday made a national holiday in the USA. Gil was arrested October 10, the day before a second SOBs performance scheduled for October 11, 2007, on felony possession of cocaine charges. However, he has continued to make live appearances at various US venues during the course of 2008, including further appearances at SOBs in New York. He has also stated in interviews that work is continuing on his new album, which will consist mainly of new versions of some of his classic songs plus some cover versions of other artists' work.
Mark T. Watson, a student of Scott-Heron's work, dedicated a collection of poetry to Gil titled Ordinary Guy that contained a foreword by Jalal Mansur Nuriddin of The Last Poets. The book was published in the UK in 2004 by Fore-Word Press Ltd. Gil recorded one of the poems in Mark T. Watson's book Black & Blue due for release in 2008 as part of the album "Rhythms of the Diaspora" by Malik & the OG's on the record label CPR Recordings.
|1970||Small Talk at 125th & Lenox||Flying Dutchman Records|
|1971||Pieces of a Man||Flying Dutchman Records|
|1972||Free Will||Flying Dutchman Records|
|1974||Winter in America||Strata-East Records|
|1975||The First Minute of a New Day||Arista Records|
|1975||From South Africa to South Carolina||Arista Records|
|1976||It's Your World||Arista Records|
|1979||The Mind of Gil Scott-Heron||Arista Records|
|1980||Real Eyes||Arista Records|
|1982||Moving Target||Arista Records|
|1984||The Best of Gil Scott-Heron||Arista Records|
|1988||The Revolution Will Not Be Televised||Bluebird Records|
|1990||Tales of Gil Scott-Heron and His Amnesia Express||Arista Records|
|1990||Glory: The Gil Scott-Heron Collection||Arista Records|
|1994||Minister of Information||Peak Top Records|
|1998||The Gil Scott-Heron Collection Sampler: 1974-1975||TVT Records|
|1998||Ghetto Style||Camden Records|
|1999||Evolution and Flashback: The Very Best of Gil Scott-Heron||RCA Records|
|2005||Gil Scott-Heron & Brian Jackson - Messages (Anthology)||Soul Brother Records|
|2007||The-Count Upcoming And Rising||Student Of The Game Records|
|1983||Johannesburg/Waiting for the Axe to Fall & `B' Movie||Arista Records|
|1970||Small Talk at 125th and Lenox|
|1972||The Nigger Factory||0862415276|
|1990||So Far, So Good||0883781336|
|2001||Now and Then: The Poems of Gil Scott-Heron||086241900X|