“Schoolhouse Rock” creator Thomas G. Yohe died of cancer on Thursday, according to the Associated Press. He was 63.
Yohe, the creative director of the ABC animated series during its 1973–85 run, came up with the idea for a cartoon that blended educational messages with ear-candy pop music while working at an advertising firm in 1971.
” ’Schoolhouse Rock’ gave him the most pride in the world,” Yohe’s wife, Diane Sanden Seely, told AP.
Michael Eisner, former head of ABC’s children’s programming and now chairman of Walt Disney Co., championed the show, which went on to win four Emmy Awards and spawn such classic tunes as “Conjunction Junction,” “I’m Just a Bill” and “Interplanet Janet.”
Those songs and several others were remade for a 1996 tribute album that featured the Lemonheads, Ween, Moby, Buffalo Tom, Biz Markie, Better Than Ezra, Pavement and Blind Melon, who scored a minor hit with their rendition of “Three Is a Magic Number,” featuring Shannon Hoon softly crooning the words originally written and sung by jazz legend Bob Dorough.
In 1998, the Roots and John Popper joined an array of artists on Schoolhouse Rocks the Vote, a benefit album for Rock the Vote that featured “Schoolhouse” covers such as Joan Osborne and Isaac Hayes’ “I’m Just a Bill.”
Yohe graduated from Syracuse University and began his career in advertising in 1961. His survivors include Seely, two sons, two daughters, two stepsons, a brother and four grandchildren.