The 94 year old musician got his start in the NY jazz scene of the 1950s and '60s, but may be best known for his work for the educational cartoon series "Schoolhouse Rock!".
Dorough was born in Arkansas and raised in Texas. This led to a record deal, with his first album, Devil May Care, coming out in 1956. When I spoke with Dorough years ago, he was kind, playful and delighted that the shorts had such a lasting impact on Generation X and beyond. "Three is a magic number". It attracted the attention of Miles Davis, who chose one of Dorough's compositions, "Blue Xmas", for a 1962 Christmas compilation that Davis' label, Columbia, was putting out.
Schoolhouse Rock! came about in 1971 when David Macall, an advertising executive, hired him to write a song to help his son with his multiplication tables. There are other great installments with other performers, such as Jack Sheldon ("I'm Just a Bill"), Lynn Ahrens ("Interplanet Janet"), Blossom Dearie and others, but we're focusing on Dorough's contributions here. Expanding to cover grammar - Dorough's least-favorite subject to pen music on - American politics and history and science, the initial series ran for 12 years and was revived in the "90s". Rocks, recorded by indie artists that had no doubt grown up watching the series, was released in 1996. His songs also included popular tunes like "Conjunction Junction" and "The Shot Heard 'Round the World".
According to NRP, Dorough continued to perform until his death, and was survived by his wife, Sally Shanley Dorough.