James Rado, co-creator of the groundbreaking hippie musical Hair, which celebrated protest, free love, and love and paved the way for the sound of rock music on Broadway, is dead. He was 90 years old.
Rado died Tuesday night in New York City from cardiac arrest, according to friend and journalist Merle Frimark.
Hairfeaturing a story and lyrics by Rado and Gerome Ragni and music by Galt MacDermot, was the first rock musical on Broadway, the first Broadway show to feature full nudity, and the first to feature a same-sex kiss .
Hair perform other rock musicals such as Jesus Christ Superstar and Rent. Alike HamiltonThis is one of the few Broadway shows of the past few decades to find its songs on the pop charts.
The so-called “American Tribal Love Rock Musical,” had its world premiere at the Public Theater in New York City’s East Village in 1967 and moved to Broadway the following year, where the play The musical has held more than 1,800 performances. Rado plays Claude, a young man about to be drafted into the army and sent to fight in Vietnam.
Clive Barnes, theater critic for New York Times, called the show “the first Broadway musical in some time to feature the authentic vocals of today and not of the past”. The New York Post says it has an “unintentional charm”, a contagious euphoria and a “youthful zest” that makes it “hard to resist”. However, many types call it “loony.”
It lost Tony in 1969 to more traditional 1776 but won a Grammy. The 2009 revival won Best Revival Tony. The show was revived on Broadway in 1977 and again in 2009. It was made into a movie directed by Milos Forman in 1979 and starring Treat Williams and Beverly D’Angelo.
Hair produced four top singles on the US pop chart, including Fifth Dimension’s #1 hit “Aquarius / Let the Sunshine In”, which won a Grammy Award for Record of the Year and Vocal Performance Best pop by a group in 1970 Other songs include “Hair” by Cowsills, “Good Morning, Starshine” by singer Oliver and “Easy to Be Hard” by Three Dog Night. The cast’s album itself was at #1 on the Billboard 200 for 13 weeks
Hair tells the story of Claude and Berger, best friends who found their freedom in the late 1960s. Between burning scratch cards, falling in love, bad LSD trips and a protest march, both wander through a New York filled with florists, drugged hippos, and outraged tourists who disapprove of wild acts. In one song, Claude poignantly sang, “Why do I live, why do I die, tell me where I am going, tell me why.”
The show is playful and chaotic, but there’s also a sense of outrage in the protests against the war, racism, sexism, pollution, and general hypocrisy of the American-dominated era. in Vietnam.
“I still want Hair about what happened after that,” Rado told The Associated Press in 1993.Hair there’s a spiritual message, and it’s got a mystical message that I hope to experience – there’s more to life than just the way it’s made for us, explained to us, taught to us. ta. “
Songs of Hair has been used in everything from the movies Forrest Gump, Minions and 40 years old virgin to TV shows like Glee, So you think you can dance and My name is Earl. Billboard magazine listed “Aquarius / Let the Sunshine In” at number 66 out of the top 100 songs of all time.
In 2019, the original recording of the 1968 Broadway cast was entered into the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress. Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden said that “these sonic treasures deserve to be preserved because of their cultural, historical and aesthetic importance to the nation’s recorded sonic heritage.”
Rado was born in Venice, California and raised in Rochester, New York and Washington, D.C. After serving two years in the United States Navy, he moved to New York and studied acting with Paula and Lee Strasberg.
Rado is part of a Broadway play Marathon ’33 in 1963 and played Richard Lionheart in Lions in winter 1966 opposite Christopher Walken. He met Ragni when he was cast in the off-Broadway musical Put your head down and die.
Both were interested in giving birth to a new kind of performance and focused on the hippie scene. They wrote the script while sharing an apartment in Hoboken, New Jersey. Rado originates from Hair the role of screenwriter Claude on Broadway.
Hair meet resistance across the country. In addition to the use of four-letter words, claps of authority, references to sex, and crude humor, the final act of Act 1 features the entire nude cast of “Where Do I Go” and what many consider to be an insult to the American flag.
There are church scavengers in Evansville, Indiana. City officials in Chattanooga, Tennessee, denied the request to hold the performance, determining that it would not be “in the best interest of the community.” In Denver, police threatened to arrest anyone who appeared naked on stage. A visit to Boston was challenged in court on the grounds of derogating the flag.
The Public Theater’s original production cut the nude scene, but the creators wanted it back for its Broadway premiere. By law at the time, New York City allowed nudity on stage as long as the actors didn’t move, which is why the entire cast of Hair standing together in a row, naked and completely still.
After HairRado wrote the music and lyrics of the off-Broadway show rainbow, co-authored the book with his brother, Ted Rado. He then teamed up with Ragni to create the book and the lyrics for the show Sun. Ragni died in 1991. Rado wrote a new program called American soldier with his brother.
In 2009, Rado, MacDermot, and Ragni were inducted into the Writers’ Hall of Fame. Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr., of The Fifth Dimension, joined the stage with the Broadway cast at the time for a finale that drew around 1,000 guests for the ceremony. MacDermot died in 2018.
Rado told the Hudson Reporter in 2009 that none of the show’s creators had predicted it would have such an impact. “We thought we had stumbled upon a great idea and something that had the potential to be a hit on Broadway, never thinking about the far future.”
He is survived by his brother Ted Rado, sister-in-law Kay Rado, nieces Melanie Khoury, Emily DiBona and Melissa Stuart, nieces and a nephew.