On May 27, 2011, Gil Scott-Heron died of congestive heart failure at the age of 62. The late activist, poet, writer and musician who was considered an early pioneer of what would later become rap music, had been plagued by years of addiction to crack cocaine. Heron had been a long time user and the brutal drug had taken its toll on his mind and body, reducing the always slim Heron to even slimmer proportions. When he died, fans went into mourning, tributes were organized and in death he became immortalized. His life however, was not as smooth as the lyrics in his songs and poems. Marcus Baram has put together the definitive account of Heron’s life appropriately titled ‘Pieces of a Man’ for the real Heron was a man undefined by anything in particular and composite of many faces.
The native of Chicago, IL became a leading voice in music inspired by the times and events of the generation in which he lived. His words and actions were striking and his influence on those around him and generations that followed is nothing short of profound. But behind the creative genius was a man often in turmoil with an equally tumultuous life. Infidelity coupled with illegitimate children and paternity issues were haunt the star and towards the end of his life as the effects of years of drug use took their toll, destitution would become a constant threat to his well-being. And upon his return from his last European tour, his body finally gave out marking an end to the life of one of the most brilliant minds the music industry has ever seen. He has been gone for several years but not a day goes by where somewhere or someplace, there is someone playing his songs, watching his films or reading his poetry. And no matter which gift of Heron’s we choose to accept, we will come away understanding why he said the revolution would not be televised.