Home » James Rado, co-creator of the Hippie Rock Musical ‘Hair’, dies at the age of 90

James Rado, co-creator of the Hippie Rock Musical ‘Hair’, dies at the age of 90

James Rado, co-creator of the influential rock musical from the hippie era Hairhas died at the age of 90.

Publicist Merle Frimark, Rados’ longtime friend, confirmed the news to New York Timeswho says the Broadway legend died Tuesday in Manhattan of cardiac and respiratory arrest.

Rado was born in Venice, California, but grew up in Rochester, NY and Washington, DC. After a two-year naval stay, he moved to New York, where he studied acting and wrote music. The 60s were his breakout decade: In 1963, he got a role in the Broadway play Marathon ’33 and took a role in The lion in winter three years later, Richard played opposite Christopher Walken.

But he got his most lucrative connection while performing in the October 1964 off-Broadway musical Hang your head and die, meeting Gerome Ragni. After moving into an apartment in New Jersey, the duo began collaborating on what became Hair: An American Tribal Love-Rock Musical. to make a book and texts that explored the decade’s flourishing counterculture and sexual liberation in the midst of the Vietnam War. (Composer Galt MacDermot wrote the music.)

Hair made its off-Broadway debut in October 1967 and premiered on Broadway six months later. The musical was met with widespread controversy, including church strikes and outrage over the show’s use of swear words, sexual references and especially a nude scene during the song “Where Do I Go?”

But the musical also became a cultural phenomenon – and even spawned a successful cast recording and a handful of hit singles, including 5th Dimension’s hit list “Aquarius / Let the Sunshine In.” Three Dogs Nat‘Easy to Be Hard’ and Oliver’s ‘Good Morning, Starshine’.

Rado continued to work in the musical medium subsequently Hair‘s introductory races, including lesser-known titles such as Rainbow Rainbeam Radio Roadshow and Sun (sound film), the latter a reunion with Ragni. But his most popular project still stands. “Hair had a spiritual message, “Rado said Associated Press in 1993. “And it has a mysterious message that I hope is getting through – there is more to life than the way it has been conceived for us, explained to us, taught to us.”

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