His songs “Conjunction Junction” and “Three Is a Magic Number” were essential to many people’s childhood.
It was impossible to be a child in America during the 1970s and ’80s and not know the words to the “Schoolhouse Rock!” songs. On Saturday mornings, ABC ran short educational cartoons featuring songs such as “Conjunction Junction,” “Three Is a Magic Number,” “The Shot Heard Round the World,” and “Lolly, Lolly, Lolly, Get Your Adverbs Here.”
Sadly, the man who wrote the aforementioned songs, Bob Dorough, passed away on April 23, 2018, at the age of 94.
Dorough was born in Arkansas and raised in Texas. He began working on music in the Army and released his debut album, “Devil May Care,” in 1956. The album’s title song was later covered by jazz legend Miles Davis. Dorough and Davis also worked together on the songs “Blue Xmas (To Whom It May Concern)” in 1962 and “Nothing Like You” in 1967.
In 1971, Dorough was approached by an ad agency to write a song about multiplication tables. Dorough wrote the song “Three Is a Magic Number,” which was intended for an educational project known as “Multiplication Rock.” The project was redubbed “Schoolhouse Rock!” after being purchased by ABC executive Michael Eisner.
Dorough contributed to “Schoolhouse Rock!” in its various incarnations from 1972 to 2009, and he was featured on more than two dozen records in his lifetime.
Here’s how Twitter reacted to Dorough’s passing.
Bob Dorough was a giant talent who made so many of us so happy as kids with Schoolhouse Rock. Listen to Three Is A Magic Number and try to not get emotional. He sang and wrote it along with all the math ones and others too. He worked with Miles Davis and Lenny Bruce. Amazing! https://t.co/Ba0o5QZBrv— Judd Apatow (@JuddApatow) April 24, 2018\n
Bob Dorough, R.I.P. There could never have been a good time to lose him.— Terry Teachout (@terryteachout) April 23, 2018
So sad to hear about the passing of Bob Dorough. He was (amongst many things) the writer of the songs “But for Now” and “Devil May Care” both of which I’ve recorded and still play regularly. pic.twitter.com/sBgvRMmRm9— Jamie Cullum (@jamiecullum) April 24, 2018\n
For all of us who got through elementary school with a great deal of help from Schoolhouse Rock (including passing that "recite the pre-amble to the Constitution" assignment with flying colors), this is a huge loss. R.I.P., Bob Dorough. https://t.co/XUbPa7QQyz— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) April 24, 2018
We think Interplanet Janet said it best...— NASA Goddard Images (@NASAGoddardPix) April 24, 2018
"Nine planets, large & small, parading by.
But somewhere out in space,
There's another shining face
That you might see some night up in the sky."
Thank you, Bob Dorough, for School House Rock and for inspiring generations. pic.twitter.com/lYpt8Lw6rZ
Here’s Dorough playing “Devil May Care” at the age of 92.