Published May 27, 2011Musician, poet and author Gil Scott-Heron has passed away. While his cause of death is currently unknown, we do know that Scott-Heron died today (May 27) at the age of 62.
Jamie Byng, Scott-Heron's UK publisher, first confirmed the news on his Twitter [via The Daily Swarm], writing, "Just heard the very sad news that my dear friend and one of the most inspiring people I've ever met, the great Gil Scott-Heron, died today... Gil Scott-Heron's death is NOT a rumour. I just called by Dorothy who is staying with Aunt Mimi in NY to tell me the news. I'm so sad."
Four decades into his career, Scott-Heron turned heads when he released 2010's I'm New Here, a gritty and introspective record that stepped out from his usually uplifting and political jazzy funk. The album was later reinterpreted by the XX's Jamie Smith for the album We're New Here.
Stay tuned for more details on Scott-Heron's death as they become available.
For more on Scott-Heron's life and music, see Exclaim!'s detailed Timeline piece here.
UPDATE: Richard Russell of XL, the label that released I'm New Here, has written a tribute to Gil Scott-Heron that's well worth the read. Via Russell's Tumblr, you can read it below:
The last conversation I had with Gil Scott-Heron was on March 19 2011.
He rang me on a Saturday, the day after my birthday, I answered his call whilst browsing in Foyles bookshop in London.
We spoke for an hour. Conversation like this with GIl were a gift.
He was a father figure of sorts to me, and I learnt a huge amount of him.
Gil was not perfect in his own life. But neither is anyone else. And he judged no one.
He had a fierce intelligence, and a way with words which was untouchable; an incredible sense of humour and a gentleness and humanity that was unique to him.
Gil shunned all the trappings of fame and success. He could have had all those things. But he was greater than that.
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.
He is the only artist I've ever worked with who requested that the studio engineers photo be given equal prominence to his own on his website.
(Lawson White, who engineered "I'm New Here", shared many amazing moments with me and Gil.)
Gil meant a massive amount to me, as he did to so many people.
His talent was immense. He was a a master lyricist, singer, orator, and keyboard player.
His spirit was immense. He channeled something that people derived huge benefit from.
He was incredibly generous in how he dealt with me, encouraging me to write and
produce with him and rediscover my own creativity through him.
He never questioned my ability to do these things, even when i did.
I have shared some of the best experiences of my life with Gil, and I feel so priveleged to have known him.
In that last conversation we had, he advised me not to change who I was just because I had the opportunity to.
With that I spent the rest of the day vinyl shopping.
Rest In Peace Gil