Above: Listen to Soundcheck's interview with Gil Scott-Heron from February 10, 2009.
Musician and poet Gil Scott-Heron died Friday in New York. He was 62 years old. Best known for his spoken-word masterpiece "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised," Scott-Heron was dubbed "the godfather of rap," but the albums he released as a singer-songwriter in the 1970s and early '80s skewed toward soul, funk and jazz. His recorded output slowed dramatically until 2010, when he released the comeback album "I'm New Here" to critical acclaim.
My first memory of Gil Scott-Heron was seeing him on an early edition of "Saturday Night Live," performing his song "Johannesburg." It was a startling moment: his lyrics took no prisoners, and his delivery was pointed and angry. I wasn't sure what, exactly, he was doing, but I knew he rocked.
My last memory of Gil Scott-Heron was his visit to Soundcheck in 2009. He was late - I think he walked in just as the NPR newscast was ending and we were scrambling to move our other guests around. But when he arrived, we found him to be - unsurprisingly - a good storyteller, and, to my surprise and relief, a charming guy. If he had the air of an absent-minded professor about him, well that wasn't a surprise either. We'd recorded one of his spoken-word performances at Central Park Summerstage back in, I think, the 90s, but never aired it because we couldn't get him to give his okay for the broadcast.
His ongoing problems with drug addiction were well-known, and I was pleased to see that the man who didn't hesitate to call out rappers when he thought they'd lost the plot was also unflinching in talking about his own demons, even if he couldn't seem to shake them.
How are you marking the death of Gil Scott-Heron? Post your memories of Gil Scott-Heron, his music and his legacy. Leave a comment below.