Oscar-Winning Composer, Musician and Poet Rod McKuen Dies at 81
Rod McKuen – who became known for his poetry and songwriting throughout the ‘60s and ‘70s – has died at age 81. He passed away from pneumonia at a rehabilitation center in Beverly Hills on Thursday, Jan. 29.
Born in Oakland in 1933, McKuen became known as the “King of Kitsch” for his vast works, including more than 30 collections of poetry and essays and 200 albums over the span of his nearly 50-year career. The prominent artist went on to earn an Academy Award for his song, ‘Jean,’ which appeared as part of his score for the 1969 film, ‘The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.’ His score for the 1969 animated film, ‘A Boy Named Charlie Brown,’ was also nominated for an Oscar.
McKuen helped bring Belgian singer-songwriter Jacques Brel to an English-speaking audience with his adaptations, specifically ‘Seasons in the Sun,’ an English-language version of Brel’s song, ‘Le Moribond.’
While he didn’t always enjoy critical success, McKuen did become one of the best-selling poets of his time. His work was adapted by fellow musicians, including Frank Sinatra, who recorded, ‘A Man Alone,’ an album of McKuen’s songs. Aaron Freeman – better known as Gene Ween, one-half of cult favorite, Ween – also covered McKuen’s songs in his 2012 album, ‘Marvelous Clouds.’
Our thoughts are with McKuen’s friends and family.