James Rado death: Co-creator of Broadway musical Hair dies, aged 90

James Rado, the co-creator of hippie musical Hair, which groundbreakingly paved the way for rock music on Broadway, has died. He was 90.

Rado passed away on Tuesday night (21 June) in New York City of cardio respiratory arrest, according to his publicist and long-time friend Merle Frimark.

In 1964 Rado met Gerome Ragni – with whom he would later co-create Hair – during a performance of the Off-Broadway show Hang Down Your Head and Die.

The two bonded and began writing songs together, and in 1967 they wrote the lyrics and story for Hair, with music by Galt MacDermot.

It became the first rock musical on Broadway, making it possible for others like Jesus Christ Superstar and Rent to successfully follow. It also featured the first same-sex kiss and full nudity on Broadway.

Labelled as the “American tribal love-rock musical”, it had its world premiere at the Public Theatre in NYC in 1967, before transferring to Broadway the following year.

Hair ran for more than 1,800 performances and starred Rado as Claude, a young man about to be drafted and sent to the Vietnam war.

James Rado

While it ultimately lost at the 1969 Tony Awards to the more traditional musical 1776, Hair went on to win a Grammy Award that same year. Forty years later, in 2009, it won the Best Revival Tony Award.


Douglas Mateo

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