(Benjamin Lee’s article appeared in the Guardian, 6/22.)

The award-winning writer, whose hit musical originally opened on Broadway in the late 60s, died in New York City of cardiorespiratory arrest

James Rado, the award-winning co-creator of Hair, has died at the age of 90.

The writer, whose hit musical launched songs such as Aquarius and Let the Sunshine In, died peacefully in New York City surrounded by family. The cause of death was cardiorespiratory arrest, as confirmed by longtime friend, publicist Merle Frimark. 

How we made Hair

Rado wrote the book and music for Hair along with the late Gerome Ragni. His career originally started as an actor, including the lead in the 1966 James Goldman play The Lion in Winter starring Rosemary Harris and Christopher Walken and in Mike Nichols’ production of The Knack.

During the 60s, Rado and Ragni were also writing Hair, a rock musical about hippie counterculture and the sexual revolution of the 60s. After a brief off-Broadway run, it hit Broadway in 1968 and ran for 1,750 performances.


“There was a wonderful warmth in the hippie atmosphere, a sense of freedom,” Rado said about the culture in a 2008 interview. “Men would just come up to you and take you in their arms, and it was so freeing and felt so good. It’s a psychological truth that had been so blocked from human behavior.”

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