Best known for his 1970 polemic "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised," Gil Scott-Heron was a musical icon who defied characterization. His biting, observant lyrics in such singles as "The Bottle" and "Johannesburg" provide a time capsule for a decade marked by turbulence, uncertainty, and racism, and he tantalized audiences with his charismatic stage presence. Yet, while he was exalted by his devoted fans as the "black Bob Dylan" (a term he hated) and widely sampled by the likes of Kanye West, Prince, Common, and Elvis Costello, he had never really achieved mainstream success. He maintained a cult-like status throughout his life, as he struggled with the demons he wrote so much about. Scott-Heron performed and occasionally recorded well into his later years until eventually succumbing to his life-long struggle with addiction, dying in 2011, after living a poor, hermit-like existence.
This book will trace his southern roots from Tennessee to New York City; to his becoming a prolific writer and musician as well as the struggle with drugs that led to his untimely death. By charting a musical odyssey, a drug addict's twisted path to redemption, and an African-American's political awakening, this book will finally put this very complicated but iconic genius into full focus.
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