In 1967, jazz critic and music publisher Nat Shapiro introduced Galt Mac Dermot to Gerome Ragni and Jim Rado, actors who had just written a provocative play entitled Hair.
The three hit it off, and Mac Dermot scored the music to Ragni and Rado's words in three weeks. It was a match made in songwriting heaven, and Rado has said that the inspiration for the music came from a combination of people they met in the street, people they knew and their own imaginations.
Hair won a Grammy in 1969 and was made into a hit film in 1979 directed by Miloš Forman. The theatrical show ran for nearly 2000 performances in both London and New York. Songs from Hair have been recorded by numerous artists, including Shirley Bassey, Barbra Streisand, Diana Ross and Liza Minnelli.
The Fifth Dimension released a medley of the two songs "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In" in 1969, the year after the show opened on Broadway, which won Record of the Year and topped the charts for six weeks.
An original Broadway cast recording sold over 3 million copies and Rado was one of the winners of a GRAMMY award for best score from an original cast show album. The original production has two Tony nominations.
Some other songs from the show became top 10 hits that year: The Cowsills's recording of the title song "Hair" climbed to #2 on the Billboard charts, "Good Morning Starshine" as sung by Oliver reached #3, and Three Dog Night's version of "Easy to Be Hard" went to #4. Another notable version of a song from Hair at the time was Nina Simone's medley, "Ain't Got No — I Got Life" on her 1968 album 'Nuff Said!, which reached the top 5 on the British charts. "Good Morning Starshine" was sung on a Sesame Street episode in 1969 by cast member Bob McGrath.
In 1970, ASCAP announced that "Aquarius" was played more frequently on U.S. radio and television than any other song that year.
A 2009 Broadway revival then went on to win a Tony for best revival of a musical, in the same year Rado was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Rado and Ragni collaborated on two other musicals: Sun and Jack Sound and His Dog Star Blowing His Final Trumpet on the Day of Doom.
It’s estimated that over a billion people have now seen some version of Hair over the last 50 years.
Rado is survived by his brother Ted Rado, sister-in-law Kay Rado, nieces Melanie Khoury, Emily DiBona, Melissa Stuart, great nieces, a great nephew and his devoted HAIR tribe around the world.