April 24 (UPI) — Musician Bob Dorough, who contributed to the creation of Schoolhouse Rock!, died in Mt. Bethel, Pa., his family announced. He was 94.
Dorough’s granddaughter Corin Wolf said he was diagnosed with cancer last year, but didn’t disclose the exact cause of his death Monday, CNN reported.
A jazz pianist and vocalist, Dorough is best known for writing “Three’s a Magic Number” the song which spawned the educational, musical cartoon series Schoolhouse Rock.
Dorough was born in Arkansas on Dec. 12, 1923, and raised in Texas. He began his musical career serving as a composer, arranger and player in the Special Services Army Band between 1943 and 1945.
He later earned a bachelor of music degree from the University of North Texas and traveled to New York to work as a pianist and singer, releasing his debut album Devil May Care in 1956.
Miles Davis later recorded his own version of Devil May Care’s title track and the two collaborated on multiple projects including the holiday song “Blue Xmas (To Whom It May Concern).”
While working a day job at an advertising company in 1971, Dorough’s boss asked him to set multiplication tables to music and he penned the song “Three Is a Magic Number.”
The song spawned the album Multiplication Rock and the concept was later sold to ABC executive Michael Eisner, ultimately becoming the first iteration of Schoolhouse Rock!.
Dorough continued to compose music for Schoolhouse Rock! while also serving as musical director as contributors such as Lynn Ahrens, Dave Frishberg and George Newall joined the project.
The series ran for 12 years and was later revived in the 1990s.
Later in life Dorough served as a mentor to British-American singer, actress and comedian Nellie McKay and continued to play music in the weeks leading up to his death.