Illustration: Dustin Spagnola
Poet and musician Gil Scott-Heron died today at the age of 62. Cause of death is unknown at this time. As an artist, teacher and thinker, his influence was massive.
According to his publisher, Gil Scott died in a New York City hospital, after falling ill upon returning from a trip to Europe. A rep for his label XL Recordings also confirmed the news of Gil Scott’s passing.
Gil Scott-Heron was one of the most revered and influential spoken word/political artists of the 1970’s, mixing percussion with spoken word performances. The hit single “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” and numerous other tracks from Gil Scott’s catalog heavily influenced the genre of Hip-Hop music.
His works have been sampled by a number of artists, including Kanye West, Common, The Game, Tupac Shakur and others.
The countdown intro of Gil Scott-Heron’s song “The Bottle” has been sampled numerous times as well.
Additionally, Gil Scott released a number of influential albums with musician Brian Jackson, including critically acclaimed releases like Small Talk at 125th and Lenox, Pieces of A Man, Winter in America and From South Carolina to South Africa.
Gil Scott-Heron released his last album, I Am New Here, in 2010.
A variety of rappers eulogized Gil Scott via Twitter upon hearing the news of Gil Scott-Heron’s passing.
“RIP Gil Scott-Heron,” Eminem tweeted. “He influenced All of hip-hop.”
“RIP GSH,,and we do what we do and who we do because of you” Chuck D. said. “And to those that don’t know, tip your hat with a hand over your heart & recognize.”
The news was especially shocking for Slim Thug, who recently released a video that features Gil Scott-Heron singing on the hook.
“That’s crazy my album came out last year that got Gil Scott-Heron on the hook and today he passed.”
This interview with Gil Scott-Heron conducted a year ago by Hungarian art organization Mediawave is one of the last documents we have on the man and his music. It’s a loosely structured video interspersed with live concert footage shot in Budapest. Scott-Heron, in a casual mood, discusses his legacy and his on-going plans to share his art one day and one country at a time. He looks and sounds like a man still very engaged with life.
The interview begins at the 1:30 mark.