Schoolhouse Rock was a requirement in our childhoods. Everyone of us watched these movies in class to learn about grammar and math, and if you didn't, I'm very sorry for your loss.
The original series started all the way back in 1973, and continued until 1985. It was so beloved that they decided to bring it back in 1993 and re-release old episodes and make a few new ones so that new generations can learn all the important lessons.
The idea for Schoolhouse Rock came about when David McCall realized his son was having a lot of trouble memorizing multiplication tables even though he could learn all of the lyrics to popular songs. McCall teamed up with copywriter George Newall, and enlisted the help of legendary jazz composer Bob Dorough, to help compose short songs that would help kids learn math.
Dorough performed the initial set of songs for "Multiplication Rock" himself, and as the series grew to include other artists he still wrote and performed many of your favorites.
Unfortunately, Dorough passed away on Monday, April 24, 2018, and his loss is one that we all feel deep in our hearts. To celebrate the man we all grew up learning from, let's take a look at back at our favorite educational song show.
Dorough received a Grammy nomination for "Multiplication Rock"
He wrote the music and lyrics for all of the songs of the "Multiplication Rock" series, and was able to secure himself a Grammy nomination in 1973. They had released the songs as an album as well as the cartoon we all remember watching.
The show originally had a different name that got them into legal trouble
The show's name was supposed to be Scholastic Rock, but they were met with legal action demanding they change it by the publishers Scholastic Inc. However, even though it was changed, there were still a few episodes that featured the original name.
Each song took several weeks to produce
The songs would take about a month to produce, and then they had to get approved by the educational consultant to make sure they had everything right. They also needed approval from ABC and that was all before animations could begin, which took a long time itself because every cell was hand-painted.
The creators favorite number is the original
George Newall, one of the original members of the Schoolhouse Rock team spoke about his favorite song and his personal favorite is actually the first.
"Three Is a Magic Number.” That was the song in which Bob Dorough created the conceptual approach that took steered us away from the mere repetition of numbers and facts."
The song isn't just his favorite, it's also holds a special place in Dorough's heart as well. When asked about his favorite song that he wrote, he revealed it was the same as the other creators.
"I’d have to say, although it’s like asking a mother to name her favorite child, that “Three Is a Magic Number” would be my fave, since it literally got me the job. By default I was eventually hired as musical director of the projects."
"Multiplication Rock" was done one song at a time, unsure if it would be a success
Originally McCall wanted all of the songs to come out at once, but in an interview done several years ago, Dorough revealed that wasn't possible.
"It started as an idea to put the multiplication tables to “rock” music and call it “Multiplication Rock. McCall wanted to finance an LP recording of the songs but, of necessity, we only went one song at a time. The recording process did begin rather early with the first session and I was being paid as an arranger and band leader in the union-approved sessions."
Dorough remained humble even though he was such a big part of why the show was a success
"I receive more than my due credit as 'the creator of Schoolhouse Rock,' etc. As the most visible representative of Schoolhouse Rock, I am out there, on the line, as it were, where I sing the songs and keep them alive.
But I owe a lot to Ben Tucker. He introduced my music to George Newall, who, as a jazz fan, used to hear Ben playing bass with Billy Taylor and/or Marion McPartland. This led to my first meeting with McCall after Ben told George that I was a guy who could “put anything to music.
I owe so much to Tom Yohe for his brilliant animation design and to George Newall for his musical support and the fact that he gave me the title for “Conjunction Junction.”
He goes on to thank many of the other members of the cast and crew, but it's nice to know that despite his talent and success were always humble.