Political activist, rap pioneer and poet Gil Scott-Heron shaped the sound of today. His friends and famous fans on why he still matters
*UPDATE* – My anecdote about the time I saw Gil at the Royal Festival Hall (and the Tel Aviv situation) has been clarified by performance-poet and musician Abdul Malik Al-Nasir, who had a close relationship with Gil and toured with him. See the comment below.
This article is off the back of a tribute concert that’s happening in Liverpool tonight. I wish I could go, the line-up looks great.
Gil is probably one of my biggest influences. I was lucky enough to see him at the Royal Festival Hall on the Southbank when he was touring for the I’m New Here record. I remember there were some pro-Palestine people protesting outside, as he was billed as playing a gig in Israel later on in the tour and this was seen as a hypocrisy off the back of Gil campaigning against apartheid South Africa. One of the protesters came into the gig halfway through and started shouting at him. Gil didn’t break a sweat. “How would you like it if I came up to you and started shouting at you when you were doing your job?!” he quipped. At the end of the concert, he said that they would cancel the Tel Aviv gig.
A man of principles, a musical legend. Funny, too.
Here’s one of my picks. When I found out he died, I went and got a copy of this record.