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Gil Scott-Heron & Brian Jackson

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While soul and jazz poet, musician, and author Gil Scott-Heron (born in Chicago, Illinois on April 1, 1949) is acknowledged as one of the main inspirations for the rap and hip-hop movements that came along a decade after his debut, his best-known recordings are with his musical collaborator Brian Jackson (born in Brooklyn, New York on October 11, 1952). While attending Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, the two met and formed a band called Black and Blues. Gil Scott-Heron also began his career as an author, publishing his first book, The Vulture, in 1970. During the same year, he also released his debut album, Small Talk at 125th and Lenox, which featured the iconic and influential track “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”. For Gil Scott-Heron’s second solo album, Pieces of a Man (1971), he collaborated with Brian Jackson, who played piano on the album and co-wrote seven of the 11 album tracks. On his third solo album, Free Will (1972), Brian Jackson co-wrote five of the 12 tracks and played piano, flute, and bells. Realizing that their musical partnership had grown into a successful one, beginning with 1974’s Winter in America, each album was credited to both Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson. The albums that the duo released together were embraced by critics and fans alike and nearly all seven albums released between 1974 and 1980 reached the Top 20 on the Jazz and Soul/R&B charts. Further albums in their canon include The First Minute of a New Day (1975), From South Africa to South Carolina (1975), It’s Your World (1976), Bridges (1977), Secrets (1978), and their final album together, 1980. One of the duo’s most influential tracks, “The Bottle”, was released in 1974 (and featured on the album Winter in America). The duo’s music was so influential to rap and hip-hop that many of their tracks have been sampled – credited and uncredited – for over four decades. Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson ended their musical relationship in 1980 after a decade of critical success. While both continued their musical careers as solo artists, nothing that either artist did was as popular or influential as their work together. Gil Scott-Heron’s drug issues sent him to prison twice in the 2000s while Brian Jackson’s successful career as a session musician and songwriter was largely out of the spotlight. Gil Scott-Heron died on May 27, 2011.