Brow Beat

Schoolhouse Rock Creator Bob Dorough, Writer of “Conjunction Junction” and More, Has Died

Bob Dorough performing at Joe's Pub at the Public, March 9, 2014.
Bob Dorough.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Kevin Yatarola/Getty Image.

Bob Dorough, the jazz musician who helped create the children’s educational program Schoolhouse Rock, has died at age 94. CNN reports that he had been diagnosed with cancer last year.

Schoolhouse Rock, which used music and animation to teach kids grammar, mathematics, history, and more, aired on ABC from 1973 to 1985 and was revived again in the ’90s. Dorough served as the program’s musical director and wrote and performed many of its songs, starting with “Three Is a Magic Number,” which sets the multiplication table to a melody.

He was also responsible for some of the series’ most famous tunes, including “Conjunction Junction” …

… and “Lolly Lolly Lolly Get Your Adverbs Here.”

Besides his work on Schoolhouse Rock, Dorough also released music of his own, including the album Devil May Care, and collaborated with Miles Davis. In 2013, on the 40th anniversary of Schoolhouse Rock, Dorough told the Washington Post that he continued to be recognized by children who grew up with his music:

“I still play the songs in my jazz jobs,” says Bob Dorough, who wrote and voiced much of the original Schoolhouse canon. “I used to play very hip songs, but then one of the waiters — who would be 25 or 30 — would say to me, ‘your voice sounds familiar.’ ” Dorough would reveal why. The waiter would get excited. “Oh!” he would say. “Can we have one, please?”

Correction, April 25, 2018: This post originally misstated that Bob Dorough wrote the song “I’m Just a Bill.” It was written by Dave Frishberg.