TIR 18: Brian Jackson Tells How He and Gil Scott-Heron Put the Message in the Music


Brought to you by FUNKNSTUFF.NET and hosted by Scott Goldfine — musicologist and author of “Everything Is on the One: The First Guide of Funk” ― “TRUTH IN RHYTHM” is the interview show that gets DEEP into the pocket with contemporary music’s foremost masters of the groove.

Featured in this 3-part series: Composer-keyboardist-flutist Brian Jackson, best known for his decade of groundbreaking work with the legendary sociopolitical composer, poet and singer Gil Scott-Heron (died 2011) during his prime 1970s period. Jackson’s on-point, jazz-informed work on piano, Fender Rhodes and other keyboards set a strong foundation for his partner’s heartfelt vocals and hard-hitting, incisive and sometimes controversial lyrics. The result of this very special pairing, which bridged the musical genres of soul, jazz and funk, among other influences, produced one of popular music’s most important bodies of work.

Further, by using a sing-song style to share words and stories that unflinchingly spotlighted the harsh realities of America’s inner-cities combined with irresistible jazz-funk grooves, the innovative duo set the stage for the rap and hip hop that would follow — often being featured and sampled within that genre. Among the pair’s classic tracks were “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” “The Bottle,” “Winter in America,” “Johannesburg,” “Hello Sunday, Hello Road,” “Racetrack in France,” “Angel Dust,” “Shut ‘Um Down,” “1980” and so many others.

In this series, Jackson talks about how he began his musical journey; his musical heroes, influences and other important figures; when he first met Gil Scott-Heron and what their formative years were like; the classic songs, albums and sessions; the tours and experiences with other notable artists; record label friction and internal tension that led to the duo’s split; Jackson’s subsequent production and session work with other acts; his later encounters with Scott-Heron and his passing; and finally what Jackson is up to today.

Recorded August 2017


Get your Brian Jackson and Gil Scott-Heron music from the Stuffs & Thangs Store!

Scott Goldfine

As a fervid lifelong music & film enthusiast / student, I grew up in and around the Los Angeles entertainment industry. I have worked and held many positions in various media realms, since 1998 serving as Editor-in-Chief and now Associate Publisher for Security Sales & Integration, a trade publication serving the electronic security industry. I love several genres of music & film. The former includes funk (Parliament-Funkadelic, Prince, Ohio Players, etc.); blues (Stevie Ray Vaughan, Buddy Guy, Eric Gales, etc.); rock (Jack White, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Neil Young, etc.); hard rock (AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, etc.); jazz (Herbie Hancock, Bob James, Crusaders, etc.); R&B (Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan, Gil Scott-Heron, etc.); and more. I was a club disc jockey and ran a mobile DJ company (Musical Moods) for more than 15 years, which is where the name Dr. GX originates (Doctor Good Times). Fave film genres include horror (Dawn of the Dead, Evil Dead, Nightmare on Elm Street, etc.); science fiction (Aliens, Terminator, 2001, etc.); action (Warriors, Road Warrior, Die Hard); westerns (Outlaw Josey Wales, Showdown at OK Corral; Wild Bunch, etc.); suspense (Jaws, Inception, Silence of the Lambs, etc.); drama (Apocalypse Now, Goodfellas, Pulp Fiction, etc.); and comedies (Life of Brian, Superbad, Ruthless People, etc.). I have attended many hundreds of concerts and movies (in theaters or screenings). I may as well also throw in a few favorite TV shows to give an even broader taste of my sensibilities. A handful would be Breaking Bad, Walking Dead, Lost, Justified, Fargo, Seinfeld, Sopranos, South Park, Brooklyn Nine Nine, Key & Peele, Monty Python, Inside Amy Schumer, Louie, Modern Family, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Last Man on Earth, Bob Newhart Show, All in the Family and The Office. Fave authors are Stephen King, Clive Barker and Michael Crichton. I am also a big sports fan and lifelong supporter of the Dallas Cowboys (NFL), Los Angeles Lakers (NBA) and Pittsburgh Pirates (MLB). Also enjoy my family of course, electronics/computers/AV gear, and animals, nature and outdoor activities. Graduate of Santa Monica High School, Santa Monica College and California State University Northridge (Radio-TV-Film, Psychology minor). Also studied at UCLA for kinesiology/psychology and earned post-grad Certificate in Accounting from Santa Monica College. Present main occupation is as Associate Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Security Sales & Integration (SSI), which I joined in 1998. I am responsible for overseeing all editorial content in print. online, electronic, in-person and any other media or products for the electronic security industry's leading business-to-business trade publication. SSI is part of Framingham, Mass.-based Emerald Expositions.