'Schoolhouse Rock' founder Bob Dorough dead at 94

Rosemary Collier
April 26, 2018

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.

Bob Dorough, the jazzman who created the clever and enduring Schoolhouse Rock toons that taught grammar, math, science, and citizenship to a generation of TV-watching kids, has died.

He told NPR back in 2013 that his boss approached him because his sons couldn't remember "their times tables - yet they sing along with Jimi Hendrix and the Rolling Stones, and they get their words".

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The musician whose songs helped teach children on ABC's "Schoolhouse Rock" has died.

Not long after the release of Devil May Care, the legendary Miles Davis recorded his own interpretation of its title track, which would go on to become a jazz standard.

Dorough was born in Arkansas and raised in Texas. "Then I looked in the magic book and sure enough, three is one of the magic numbers".

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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.

Dorough continued to compose music for Schoolhouse Rock! while also serving as musical director as contributors such as Lynn Ahrens, Dave Frishberg and George Newall joined the project.

"Schoolhouse Rock" songs premiered in 1973 and ran on ABC from 12 years. "Lou Reed's idea of hell would be to sit in heaven with Bob Dorough", McKay says, referencing the famously cantankerous NY rocker.

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