NEW YORK—US lyricist and poet Gil Scott-Heron, who told the world “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” and inspired a generation of hip-hop artists, has died at the age of 62, his record company said Saturday.
Scott-Heron, an African-American who first gained fame for his poetry and spoken word performances in the late 1960s, saw his influence grow until he was dubbed the “Godfather of Rap.”
His early albums, “Pieces of a Man” and “Winter in America,” have been credited with influencing a generation of hip-hop musicians who followed him.
“RIP to 1 of tha greats Gil Scott-Heron,” US rap artist Snoop Dogg tweeted.
Rap artist Eminem also weighed in with a Twitter post: “RIP Gil Scott-Heron. He influenced all of hip-hop.”
Scott-Heron died Friday at a New York hospital, according to XL Recordings. The cause of death was not immediately known but US media reported that he recently returned home after feeling ill while traveling in Europe.
Much of his music reflected his struggle with an addiction to drugs and alcohol. He has said he was HIV-positive.
“Gil shunned all the trappings of fame and success. He could have had all those things. But he was greater than that,” XL Recordings founder and owner Richard Russell wrote on his website.
“He seemed wholly uninterested in money… To my knowledge, he never accepted an award. He always wanted everyone else to receive credit for their work.
Russell hailed Scott-Heron’s “immense talent.”
“He was a master lyricist, singer, orator and keyboard player,” Russell continued. “He had a fierce intelligence, and a way with words which was untouchable.”
Recorded in 1970, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” was a percussion-backed anti-establishment opus that challenged advertising, media and police brutality.
The revolution “will not make you look five pounds thinner… will not go better with Coke,” he stated in the recording. Popular TV shows “will no longer be so damned relevant… because black people will be in the street looking for a brighter day.”