Music and Television – Schoolhouse Rocks!

The AWESOME! page has random music stuff that I think is cool. You never know what you will find here!

Here’s my second installment of the series “Music and Television.”

Bob Dorough, jazz musician, composer and vocalist, died last week, at the age of 94. He was involved in jazz music for 7 decades, releasing 28 albums, and he contributed on numerous recordings by other jazz artists – notably, he was a rare vocalist on a Miles Davis recording.

But Dorough’s legacy came from a completely different area. If you were a kid in the 70s and 80s, you watched the cartoon Schoolhouse Rocks! on ABC on Saturday mornings. Each segment was 3 minutes long – ABC cut 3 minutes out of their regular Saturday morning cartoon line-up, and each week they would air a new Schoolhouse Rocks! segment. They taught kids various topics by setting them to catchy tunes and clever animation. There were 6 general categories over the years – Multiplication Rock, Grammar Rock, America Rock, Science Rock, Money Rock and Earth Rock – a total of 61 segments. Dorough was the first artist asked to participate, and he set the standard for the show. He wrote 26 of the songs, performing many of them for the segments. He also performed some of the songs written by other contributors – in total, he contributed to over half of the segments.

The first episode, Three Is A Magic Number, aired on January 6, 1973. By the end of March that year, 10 more Multiplication Rock segments aired – all composed by Dorough, and all but 3 performed by him. New segments continued in 1974, 1975 and 1976, and then again in 1978 and 1979. Reruns ran through 1985, and then the series was revived with new segments in 1994 through 1996, and then again in 2002. Finally, in 2009, the Earth Rock segments were produced – Dorough wrote or performed on 6 of these segments, 36 years after his original contributions.

These animated lessons/songs are a blast to watch. When I learned that Dorough had passed, I went to YouTube and spent an afternoon watching many of them. My faves – Lolly, Lolly, Lolly Get Your Adverbs Here (from Grammar Rock, teaching about adverbs), Conjunction Junction (from Grammar Rock, teaching about conjunctions), and I’m Just A Bill (from America Rock, teaching the legislative process). The first 2 were composed by Dorough, while the third was composed by Dave Frishberg. Here are all 3 – take 9 minutes to watch these classics.

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