R.I.P. 'Schoolhouse Rock!' Composer Bob Dorough
Published Apr 24, 2018Bob Dorough — a jazz musician and songwriter best known as the composer and performer of songs from the cartoon series Schoolhouse Rock! — has died. Dorough died Monday (April 23) at his home in Mt. Bethel, PA, local ABC affiliate WNEP reports. He was 94.
Born in Arkansas, Dorough grew up in Plainview, TX. During the Second World War, he joined a Special Services Army Band Unit, playing piano, clarinet and saxophone. After the war, he studied piano and composition at North Texas State University, going on to perform in various clubs in New York City, Paris and Los Angeles.
Dorough released his first album, Devil May Care, in 1956. Miles Davis then invited Dorough to record with him after hearing the album, asking him to provide lyrics and vocals for a Christmas LP. Their "Blue XMas" can be heard on Columbia compilation Jingle Bell Jazz. Dorough's vocals can also be heard on Davis' "Nothing Like You," which closes his 1967 LP Sorcerer.
Dorough wrote and directed episodes of Schoolhouse Rock! from 1972 to 1996, and for direct-to-video releases in 2002 and 2009. He got his start writing for the educational cartoon upon being asked to put multiplication tables to music, and was hired as the series' musical director after writing "Three Is a Magic Number."
Dorough received one Grammy nomination for Best Recording for Children in 1974. He was inducted into the Arkansas Jazz Hall of Fame in 1998.