James Rando, co-creator of the groundbreaking hippie musical Hair, who celebrated protest, pot and free love and paved the way for the sound of rock on Broadway, died. It was 90.
Rando died Tuesday night in New York of cardiorespiratory arrest, according to friend and journalist Merle Frimark.
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Hairwhich has a story and lyrics by Rado and Gerome Ragni and music by Galt MacDermot, was the first Broadway rock musical, the first Broadway show to feature full nudity and the first to feature a same-sex kiss.
Hair made other rock musicals like Jesus Christ Superstar and Rent. Like Hamiltonwas one of the few Broadway shows in recent decades to find his songs on the pop charts.
The so-called “American tribal love-rock musical” made its world premiere at the Public Theater in New York’s East Village in 1967 and moved to Broadway the following year, where the musical played more than 1,800 performances. Rando played Claude, a young man who was to be drafted and sent to war in Vietnam.
Clive Barnes, theater critic for The New York Times, called the show “the first Broadway musical in a while that has its authentic voice today despite the day before yesterday”. The New York Post said it had “unintentional charm”, contagious mood swings and “youthful fun” that “make it hard to resist”. Variety, however, called it “relaxed.”
He lost Tony in 1969 to one of the most traditional 1776 but won a Grammy Award. The 2009 revival won Tony’s Best Revival. The show revived on Broadway in 1977 and again in 2009. It was made into a film directed by Milos Forman in 1979 and starring Trit Williams and Beverly D’Angelo.
Hair created four of the top four singles on the American pop charts, including Fifth Dimension’s No. 1 hit “Aquarius / Let the Sunshine In”, which won the Grammy Award for Record and Best Pop Vocal Performance by a group in 1970. Others included Cowsills’s “Hair”, Oliver’s “Good Morning, Starshine” and Three Dog Night’s “Easy to Be Hard”. The cast album itself remained at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 for 13 weeks
Hair tells the story of Claude and Berger, best friends who find their freedom in the late 1960s. flower children, drugged hippies and angry tourists who do not approve of wild developments. In one song, Claude sings sadly, “Why I live, why I die, tell me where I’m going, tell me why.”
The show has seemed a bit unfocused in recent episodes, however;
“I would still like to Hair “It must be roughly what it was then,” Rando told the Associated Press in 1993.Hair it had a spiritual message and it has a mystical message that I hope will pass – there is more to life than the way it was invented for us, explained to us, taught to us. “
Their songs Hair have been used in all of the movies Forrest Gump, Minions and 40 year old Virgin in TV shows like Joy, So you think you can dance and My name is Earl. Billboard magazine ranks “Aquarius / Let the Sunshine In” at No. 66 of the top 100 songs of all time.
In 2019, the original 1968 Broadway cast was recorded in the Library of Congress National Record. Congressional Librarian Carla Hayden considered “these audio treasures worthy of preservation because of their cultural, historical, and aesthetic significance to the nation’s recorded audio heritage.”
Born in Venice, California, Rando grew up in Rochester, New York, and Washington, DC. After serving two years in the U.S. Navy, he moved to New York and studied acting with Paula and Lee Strasberg.
Rando was part of the entire Broadway play Marathon ’33 in 1963 and played Richard Lionheart The lion in winter in 1966 opposite Christopher Walken. She met Ragni when she was cast in a non-Broadway musical Hang your head and you die.
The two were interested in giving birth to a new kind of show and focused on the hippie scene. They wrote the script while sharing an apartment in Hoboken, New Jersey. Rando comes from Hair role of enlisted Claude on Broadway.
Hair met resistance throughout the country. Aside from the use of four-letter words, abuse of power, sexual references, and vulgar humor, the end of Act 1 had the entire cast naked on “Where Do I Go” and there was what many thought was an American flag desecration .
There were churches in Evansville, Indiana. City officials in Chattanooga, Tennessee, denied that the show had been staged, saying it would not be “in the best interest of the community.” In Denver, police threatened to arrest anyone who appeared naked on stage. A visit to Boston has been challenged in court over the desecration of the flag.
The original Public Theater production had cut the nude stage, but the creators wanted it back for their Broadway debut. Under the law of the time, New York City allowed nudity on stage as long as the actors were not moving, so the entire cast Hair they stood together in a row, naked and completely motionless.
Post HairRando wrote the music and lyrics for the show outside of Broadway Rainbow, co-sign the book with his brother, Ted Rando. He later collaborated with Ragni to create the book and lyrics for the show Sun. Ragni died in 1991. Rando wrote a new show entitled American Soldier with his brother.
In 2009, Rado, MacDermot and Ragni were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr., of The Fifth Dimension, joined the Broadway cast at the time for a finale that brought the approximately 1,000 guests of the ceremony to their feet. MacDermot died in 2018.
Rando told the Hudson Reporter in 2009 that none of the series’ creators expected it to have such a huge impact. “We thought we’d stumbled upon a great idea and something that could possibly become a success on Broadway, without ever thinking about the distant future.”
He is survived by his brother Ted Rado, sister-in-law Kay Rado, nieces Melanie Khoury, Emily DiBona and Melissa Stuart, nieces and one nephew.
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