“Life was made for us to be what we wanna be” sang Gil in his song “It’s your world”. Gil
wanted to be a musician, poet and writer, he successfully achieved all.
Gilbert Scott Heron was born in Chicago, Illinois on April 1st 1949, his mother was a singer and his Jamaican father was the the first black player at Celtic football club, he was nicknamed “The Black Arrow”. Gil lived with his Grandmother after his parents divorced when he was young.At the age of 13 his Grandmother passed away and he moved back to live with Mother in The Bronx.
He studied at Lincoln university in Pennsylvania, here he met Brian Jackson and formed the band Black and Blues.After studying for two years, he took a year out to write two novels “The nigger factory” and “The Vulture. He then returned to New York city.
Gils recording career started in 1970, his first LP was released on Flying Dutchman records titled Small Talk at 125th and Lenox. His radical spoken word style that he used on his most famous tune “The revolution will not be televised” made him a pioneer of rapping. When interviewed about being called “The godfather of rap” Gil said “They need to study music. I played in several bands before I began my career as a poet. There’s a big difference between putting words over some music, and blending those same words into the music. There’s not a lot of humour. They use a lot of slang and colloquialisms, and you don’t really see inside the person. Instead, you just get a lot of posturing”
His work would continue through the following decades, but in his personal life his addiction to drugs caused him to serve time in prison.In 2001 he was sentenced to one to three years for possession of cocaine, on his release in 2002 he made an appearance on the Blackalicious album “Blazing Arrow”.He was arrested again in July 2006 for a drugs possession charge and was given a four year sentence.
When he was released in 2007 he continued to perform and resumed writing a book called “The last holiday” about Stevie Wonders successful campaign to make Martin Luther King day an official holiday, the book was never published.In 2007 he was arrested again for drugs, but continued to perform.
His last album titled “Im new here” was released on XL recordings in 2010, It was his first studio LP for 16 years. The album was recorded in New York and was well received by both critics and fans.
Sadly, shortly after returning from his European tour Gil Scott-Heron passed away during the afternoon of May 27, 2011 at St. Luke’s Hospital, New York City.