Bob Dorough, ‘Schoolhouse Rock!’ Performer and Writer, Dies at 94

Musician was responsible for tunes including “Three Is a Magic Number” and “My Hero, Zero”

bob dorough schoolhouse rock dies

Bob Dorough, the jazz musician who was instrumental in the 1970s educational cartoon series “Schoolhouse Rock!” died Monday in Mt. Bethel, Pennsylvania, a spokesperson for Dorough told TheWrap. He was 94.

During his run with “Schoolhouse Rock!” Dorough wrote and performed iconic numbers including “My Hero, Zero” and “Three Is a Magic Number.”

Dorough, born in Arkansas and raised in Texas, took to music early, joining his high school’s band and serving three years in a special services army band unit.

Dorough was a conductor, accompany player, arranger and conductor for a number of years before recording his first effort of his own, “Devil May Care,” in 1956 for the Bethlehem label. Among the artists Dorough worked with was Miles Davis, recording “Nothing Like You” and “Blue Xmas,” both of which Dorough composed, with Davis in 1962.

“In 1971 he received a commission to ‘set the multiplication tables to music.’ This led to a small industry, being the beginning of ABC-TV’s ‘Schoolhouse Rock,’ Saturday morning cartoons that entertained and instructed unsuspecting children during the years 1973-1985,” Dorough’s biography reads.

The bio adds, “The impact of this media exposure was unpredictably immense. The show came back for another five years in the 90’s and is now enjoying its 40th anniversary with a DVD edition of the entire, five-subject series, for which Dorough worked as the Musical Director.”

In 1995, Dorough signed with the prestigious Blue Note Records label, recording three CDs — “Right on My Way Home,” “Too Much Coffee Man” and “Who’s On First” — for the label.