James Rado, Co-Creator Of the Musical ‘Hair’, Has Died At the Age of 90

The world has lost yet another musical legend. James Rado, the co-creator of the 1967 Broadway musical ‘Hair’, has died on June 21 at the age of 90. He died in New York City of cardio respiratory arrest.

“Hair” was particularly influential due to its celebration of protest, pot and free love. It was the first Broadway to showcase full nudity and feature a same-sex kiss. It was the first rock musical in general, paving its way for other rock musicals such as “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “Rent.”

Additionally, the songs in the show remained in the top charts for decades. In fact, some of the songs have even been used in popular movies such as “Forrest Gump,” “Minions” and “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” as well as TV shows like “Glee,” “So You Think You Can Dance” and “My Name Is Earl.” Some of the most popular songs include “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In,” which listed at No. 66 of all-time top 100 songs on the Billboard magazine lists.

“I’d still like ‘Hair’ to be about what it was about then,” Rado told The Associated Press in 1993. “‘Hair’ had a spiritual message, and it has a mystical message I hope is coming through — there’s more to life than the way it’s been devised for us, explained to us, taught to us.”

“Hair” premiered at the Public Theater in New York City’s East Village and became a Broadway sensation the next year. After that, the musical was performed more than 1,800 times. Rado was not only one of the creators, but also was in the show: He played Claude, a young man who was about to be drafted for the Vietnam War.

The show was always so well received, even from critics. One theater critic for The New York Times, Clive Barnes, said “Hair” was “the first Broadway musical in some time to have the authentic voice of today rather than the day before yesterday.” The New York Post described it as having “unintentional charm,” and a “young zestfulness” that “makes it difficult to resist.”

In 1969, it did lose a Tony Award, but it won a Grammy. “Hair” was revived in 1977 and again, most recently, in 2009, when it won the best revival Tony. In 1979, it was made into a movie, directed by Milos Forman.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Rado’s family and friends at this time.

Have you ever seen “Hair”? What did you think of this iconic musical?

[Image credit: YouTube]