Published: Thu, April 26, 2018
Science | By Celia Watts

'Schoolhouse Rock' Composer Bob Dorough Dead At 94

'Schoolhouse Rock' Composer Bob Dorough Dead At 94

Dorough died of natural causes at his home in Mount Bethel, Pennsylvania, according to The Associated Press.

If you instantly start singing along, you're of that "Schoolhouse Rock" generation that learned lifelong lessons about civics, grammar, math and other school subjects through the catchy tunes and lyrics of musician Bob Dorough.

In 1971, Dorough was working a day job at a NY advertising company when his boss asked him to set the multiplication tables to music, figuring if kids could remember rock lyrics, it might help them learn math, according to NPR.

Born in Arkansas, Dorough was able to make a living as a pianist and composer from the time he moved to NY in 1949.

Bob Dorough performing at Joe's Pub in NY on March 9, 2014.

His tunes "Conjunction, Junction", "Three is a Magic Number" and "I'm Just A Bill" have been shown in schools for decades, educating students on grammar, multiplication and how a bill become a law. "Three is a magic number".

"Schoolhouse Rock" songs premiered in 1973 and ran on ABC from 12 years.

Dorough ended up writing "Three's a Magic Number".

Miles Davis later recorded his own version of Devil May Care's title track and the two collaborated on multiple projects including the holiday song "Blue Xmas (To Whom It May Concern)".

Watch a few of Bob's most famous Schoolhouse Rock clips, and listen to '90s indie rock tribute Schoolhouse Rocks Rocks (with Pavement, The Lemonheads, Biz Markie and more), below.

Dorough himself continued to play live for the rest of his life - at 92, Dorough performed "Devil May Care" for member station WBGO - and as recently as three weeks ago in upstate NY.

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