The "Godfather of Rap" was 62 and succumbed Friday in a New York hospital

By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated May 28, 2011 10:30 AM
Credit: Anthony Barboza/Getty

“Godfather of Rap” Gil Scott-Heron, who in 1970 mixed poetry and music for his militant song “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” died Friday afternoon in a New York hospital, his publicist told CNN.

He was 62, and the cause of death was not immediately stated. Scott-Heron was known to be HIV positive and had struggled with drug addiction throughout a large part of his life.

“You will not be able to stay home, brother/You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out/You will not be able to lose yourself on skag and skip/Skip out for beer during commercials/Because the revolution will not be televised,” went one stanza of the work.

Chicago-born, the iconoclast was named after his father, Gilbert Heron, a Jamaican football (soccer) player who had settled in America and was signed by Glasgow’s Celtic FC, earning the nickname “The Black Arrow.”

Returning to the Windy City, Senior met Gil s mother, Bobbie, a librarian who had once sung with the New York Oratorial Society. It was she, along with his grandmother, who raised the young Scott-Heron in Jackson, Tenn. While in college, he was heavily influence by the poet Langston Hughes.

“The Revolution” was released when he was only 18, and within five years he had also recorded three albums and published two novels and a book of poetry. Among his other nicknames was “The People’s Poet.”

Scott-Heron’s influence was immense. As Usher Tweeted on Friday night: “I just learned of the lost of a very important poet…R.I.P. Gil Scott Heron. The revolution will be live!!”