Ronnie Dyson, Bringer of Joy: 1950 – 1990

Now you might get a hint of why the  life of a professor of media studies can be so downright joyous.

A sociologist of media and culture is like a free-range chicken. We are dead serious about the impact of media and culture on society, but we are relatively free to find that impact in all sorts of nooks and crannies, past and present.

Which leads me to the great Ronnie Dyson.

This morning I accidentally popped the original Broadway  soundtrack of “Hair” into my computer. I saw the show performed by the original company, and I have always loved the music, despite the saccharine covers of the songs that have been recorded over the years.  It does, though, leave me  with complicated, mixed feelings. So much of the enthusiasm and lunacy I felt when I saw the original cast in 1969 seems so distant.

And all those dreams. Some lead to dead ends. Others became life-long journeys. So much seemed possible. 

And then I thought of Ronnie Dyson. Joyous, hilarious, gifted Ronnie Dyson. You might remember this song:

Ronnie Dyson was an ebullient, infectiously enthusiastic performer who brought the original cast of Hair to life. He had a  sweet and powerful tenor voice and a wicked sense of humor. He was mischievous. If Hair was a celebration of life, Ronnie was the fuel, the raw material. He seemed to live more fully than everyone else.

Except that he didn’t. This morning I woke up, vowing to send him an email and tell him of the impression he made,  only to learn that — after making several memorable recordings — he died in 1990 of heart failure. He was 40 years old.

Thank you. Ronnie Dyson. Bringer of joy. Thank you.

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3 thoughts on “Ronnie Dyson, Bringer of Joy: 1950 – 1990

  1. It would be nice if you wrote a definitive bio of RD. Nothing seems to be known about his personal life. Your remarks we’re a slight tip of the hat to someone who deserved/deserves so ,much Morse.

    • Thanks so much for noticing my very brief remembrance of Ronnie Dyson. Of all the artists from that era, I found his voice among the most interesting and unique.

      On any given day, his recording of “If You Let Me Make Love to You” will spontaneously start to play in my mind.

      Alas, Im not a music expert or biographer. But Ronnie is an artist who must not be forgotten.

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