Jazz Musician Bob Dorough Of 'Schoolhouse Rock' Dies At 94

Ruben Ruiz
April 25, 2018

His wife "kept hearing me and said, 'What is that melody?' And I said, 'Oh, that's a new song about eight.' And she told me, 'Oh no, that's too good to be a Schoolhouse Rock song!' " as Dorough told Porkchops & Applesauce.

The 12 years it ran burned such terms as "Conjunction Junction" and the (almost) exact wording of the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution into a generation of children. Dorough wrote and performed iconic numbers including "My Hero, Zero" and "Three Is a Magic Number". Bob's debut song, "Three is a Magic Number", appeared in the Schoolhouse Rock pilot. It wasn't until Dorough got one-on-one piano lessons that he said the music began to click.

"Even though [the songs] were in a "rock" or "pop" bag, my jazz sensibilities and the fine musicians I used for the audio recordings made the songs seem unusual to the Saturday morning cartoon listener", he told CNN in 2013.

His 94 years of life were packed with a Forrest Gump-esque career that brought him in contact with several historical icons and eventually launched him into writing educational earworms for ABC in between experimental jazz records.

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The Arkansas-born, Texas-raised Dorough began working in music in the army, serving as a composer, arranger and player in the Special Services Army Band between 1943 and '45, before getting a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of North Texas.

"Suddenly it's like I was in television and all the songs had to be exactly three minutes and it was like I was in a factory", Dorough said. "And in my mind I thought, why not educate and entertain all ages", Dorough said. The show came back for another five years in the 90's and is now enjoying its 40th anniversary with a DVD edition of the entire, five-subject series, for which Dorough worked as the Musical Director. She had never heard of Dorough, but she recognized the voice.

"I sometimes say, the kids grow up and now they're [older], and now they go to bars and drink!" he said in a previous interview, according to Ultimate Classic Rock. Seven years later, the State Department and the Kennedy Center chose him as an "ambassador of jazz and blues".

"They discover me again, playing at bars!".

Other reports by GizPress

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