The legendary “Hair” composer served as a longtime inspiration in hip-hop.
Galt MacDermot died Monday December 17th, a day before his 90th birthday.
The Montreal-born composer’s granddaughter confirmed the death to Playbill, though, a cause of death was not revealed.
The Grammy-winning composer wrote the score for the Tony-winning best musical Two Gentlemen of Verona, and the hit Broadway musical, Hair. MacDermot become a constant inspiration in hip-hop, having been sampled by the likes of J Dilla, MF DOOM, Madlib, Snoop Dogg, Busta Rhymes, Run-DMC, and Public Enemy, among many others.
MacDermot was born December 18th, 1928 in Montreal and received a bachelor’s degree in music from South Africa’s Cape Town University.
In the ’60s, he teamed up with lyricists Gerome Ragni and James Rado and created Hair, which opened off-Broadway in 1967. He was instrumental in adding soul and groove to the classic recording, “The Flesh Failures (Let the Sunshine In)” which was released in 1969 by The Fifth Dimension as part of a medley with “Age of Aquarius.” The song notably became the hippie generation’s anthem.
His music and influence carried over into hip-hop. “Space,” from his 1969 Woman Is Sweeter soundtrack, has been sampled in tracks by Snoop Dogg, Faith Evans, and Busta Rhymes‘ “Woo-Hah!! Got You All in Check.” MacDermot’s solo recording “Coffee Cold” appears in recordings by Gang Starr, while “Golden Apples – Part II” was sampled by J Dilla for “Mash” on his Donuts LP.
Questlove mourned the music loss with a post on Instagram writing, “The Broadway community is mourning his passing this morning (#Hair will love forever) but best believe he was the hip hop community’s too.” He added, “All his classics… It fed Nineties hip hop something crazy!”
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MacDermot was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2009. In 2010, he received the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada’s Lifetime Achievement Award.