David Axelrod, the pioneering composer from L.A. who inadvertently shaped the world of Hip Hop, has passed away at age 83. Axelrod’s free use of instruments and genres–combining jazz and r&b with lush string and brass arrangements–resulted in a fresh, new sound that critics hailed. His seminal works include Songs of Innocence (1968) and its companion piece, Songs of Experience, inspired by William Blake’s poetry. Axelrod’s career culminated in a landmark performance of his solo work at Royal Festival Hall in 2004 which resulted in a live album.
The 90s saw Axelrod’s compositions finding a new, appreciative audience among the best hip hop acts of the time, many of whom sampled his works. Listen to The Edge, a classic composition that Axelrod co-wrote with David McCallum for the actor’s solo album and guess which Hip Hop track it inspired.