NEW YORK (AP) — James Rado, co-creator of the groundbreaking hippie musical “Hair,” which celebrated protest, pot and free love and paved the way for the sound of rock on Broadway, has died. He was 90.
Rado died Tuesday night in New York City of cardio respiratory arrest, according to friend and publicist Merle Frimark.
“Hair,” which has a story and lyrics by Rado and Gerome Ragni and music by Galt MacDermot, was the first rock musical on Broadway, the first Broadway show to feature full nudity and the first to feature a same-sex kiss.
“Hair” made possible other rock musicals like “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “Rent.” Like “Hamilton,” it was one of only a handful of Broadway shows in the past few decades to find its songs on the pop charts.
The so-called “American tribal love-rock musical,” had its world premiere at the Public Theater in New York City’s East Village in 1967 and transferred the following year to Broadway, where the musical ran more than 1,800 performances. Rado played Claude, a young man about to be drafted and sent to the war in Vietnam.
Clive Barnes, theater critic for The New York Times, called the show “the first Broadway musical in some time to have the authentic voice of today rather than the day before yesterday.” The New York Post said it had “unintentional charm,” contagious high spirits and a “young zestfulness” that “make it difficult to resist.” Variety, however, called it “loony.”
It lost the Tony in 1969 to the more traditional “1776” but won a Grammy Award. The 2009 revival won the best revival Tony. The show was revived on Broadway in 1977 and again in 2009. It was made into a movie directed by Milos Forman in 1979 starring Treat Williams and Beverly D’Angelo.
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