Despite (or perhaps because of) being raised in challenging circumstances Scott-Heron was startlingly precocious. By the early 70s, he was a published author of novels and poetry and was working in The Midnight Band, which he co-led with childhood friend Brian Jackson. He wrote many songs, often in collaboration with Jackson, some of which were in a form that would later be known as rap. Some of the songs were performed and occasionally recorded by well-known pop singers. He also recorded his own poems and songs on albums made through the 70s and early 80s. In most of his work, Scott-Heron took an assertive stance on matters of race, political oppression and presidential incompetence (he was particularly vehement with Ronald Reagan). He was also outspoken in his condemnation of social injustice and drug abuse. Through most of the 80s he was on the fringes, but reappeared with an album in the early 90s, but then he himself fell victim to drugs and served a prison term at the start of the 00s, followed by another for parole violation. Released in early 2007 he resumed performing and writing but was again charged with possession. In 2011, falling ill shortly after returning from a tour, Scott-Heron died in hospital.
Followers: Michael Franti, T-Bone Burnett...