Heavily Sampled Hall Of Fame Songwriter Galt MacDermot Passes Away At 89

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Galt MacDermot has died at the age of 89 today (December 17). It was one day before his 90th birthday. Although family members confirmed the news, according to Rolling Stone, a cause of death has not been made public.

The Montreal, Quebec native may be best remembered as the composer of 1960s Broadway musical Hair. The work, which examined the Vietnam War and ongoing social reforms, earned MacDermot a Grammy Award and two Tony nominations, including the composition for “The Flesh Failures (Let the Sunshine In)” and “Where Do I Go?” The first track was sampled by Kanye West for Mos Def (“Sunshine”), while the second served as an element to Run-D.M.C.’s “Down With The King” alongside Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth. Perhaps most notably, “Space” was used on Busta Rhymes’ early solo breakthrough, “Woo-Hah!! Got You All In Check,” as produced by Rashad Smith.

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Beyond Hair (which became a feature film in 1979), the Songwriting Hall Of Fame Inductee’s sound and works throughout the 1960s and 1970s had a close relationship with Hip-Hop music through sampling. His “Ripped Open By Metal Explosions” became a key component in The Artifacts’ “C’Mon With Da Get Down.” 1966’s “Coffee Cold” found new life care of Handsome Boy Modeling School and J-Live’s “The Truth.” The late J Dilla, MF DOOM, and Madlib are some of the producers who celebrated MacDermot’s works.

In the early ’60s, MacDermot—who studied at South Africa’s Capetown University, relocated in New York City. He produced Julian “Cannonball” Adderley during this time. Towards the end of the decade, the emerging composer partnered with lyricists Gerome Ragni and James Rado to work on Hair, which debuted off-Broadway in 1967. In the 1970s, Galt lent his talents to Two Gentlemen Of Verona, a modernized William Shakespeare adaptation.

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Ahead of his death, Galt MacDermot embraced his extended following through Hip-Hop, Rare Groove, and crate diggers. While Madlib sampled the great, Galt released his Up From The Basement series with some help from Now-Again Records. It included some Hair takes.

Ambrosia For Heads extends condolences to the family, friends, and fans of Galt MacDermot.