Versatile Canadian-American composer for Broadway musicals, film music, jazz and funk
Grammy for his musical "Hair"
Grammy and Tony-award winning composer, Galt Mac Dermot is best known for the music he wrote for HAIR and Two Gentlemen of Verona. He was born and raised in Montreal and received a Bachelor of Music from Cape Town University, South Africa. He moved to New York in 1964 and, three years later, wrote the music for HAIR which he later adapted for the screen.
More recently, Galt's music has found a new venue with rap artists who find the rhythms of the HAIR score perfect for setting their lyrics, as in Run DMC's Grammy award-winning Down With The King, and Billboard's top chart-buster, Woo-Hah!! Got You All In Check by Busta Rhymes. Mac Dermot formed the New Pulse Band in 1979, which features his original music played by some of the world's best musicians. 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. 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. 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. 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.