Filed Under:

The Voice Of 'Schoolhouse Rock' On The Series At 40

Believe it or not, Schoolhouse Rock is 40 years old. If you're a child of the 1970s or '80s, you probably sat in front of a television on Saturday morning watching those little animated lessons that told us why that scrap of paper was loitering on the Capitol steps or the finer points of grammar.

To mark the anniversary, Weekend Edition Sunday spoke with Bob Dorough, who composed, conducted and even sang much of Schoolhouse Rock's music. Dorough's career didn't begin in children's television; a skilled singer and pianist, he started out playing with some of the biggest names in jazz, including Miles Davis.

"There I was in New York City, just trying to make a living," Dorough tells NPR's Rachel Martin. "My jazz work was a little slow, and I was dabbling in advertising music, just to make ends meet. By then I was married and had a daughter, and so I needed that bread."

That's when his boss came to him with a problem: "My sons cannot memorize their times tables — yet they sing along with Jimi Hendrix and the Rolling Stones, and they get their words," Dorough recalls being told.

He was given a challenge: Set the multiplication tables to music. And what was meant to be a record-and-workbook package blossomed into "Multiplication Rock," the very first series of Schoolhouse Rock shorts. To hear more of the story, click the audio link on this page.

Copyright 2013 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Professional Wrestling World Mourns Longtime Star 'Rowdy' Roddy Piper

The Canadian entered the WWF as a villain and fought Hulk Hogan and Mr. T in the first Wrestlemania event. The career gave the often-bekilted grappler many chances to show off his bagpipe skills.
WAMU 88.5

Donald Trump Sues Chef José Andrés Over Hotel Pullout

Trump has filed a $10 million breach-of-contract lawsuit against Chef José Andrés and his companies after Andrés announced that he's canceling plans to have a restaurant inside Trump's Old Post Office hotel in downtown D.C.
NPR

Pacific Trade Pact In Limbo As Talks End Without A Deal

Disagreements remain among the 12 countries regarding drug patents, market access and more, and likely will delay congressional debate of any eventual agreement into 2016.
NPR

Despite Host Controversy, Amazon Takes A Chance On 'Top Gear'

The trio that made Top Gear the world's biggest car show will return to the small screen in a new show for Amazon Prime. The BBC canned one of its hosts last year after a fight with a producer.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.