Bob McGrath was a cast member on the pilot episode of Sesame Street in 1969 and remained a regular for 48 years. He died yesterday at the age of 90 from complications following a stroke.
"Bob embodied the melodies of Sesame Street like no one else, and his performances brought joy and wonder to generations of children around the world, whether teaching them the ABCs, the people in their neighborhood, or the simple joy of feeling music in their hearts," Sesame Workshop tweeted.
Besides being famous for being on Sesame Street, McGrath enjoyed an earlier career as a teen idol in Japan.
From McGrath's bio page:
In 1960, Bob was invited to be one of the top tenors on NBC's new weekly television show Sing Along With Mitch. Two years later, Mitch invited Bob to sing alongside Leslie Uggams as the featured male soloist. The show ran for four years and was even picked up in Japan!
After the show was canceled, the group continued to sing together, and Bob headlined a month of performances in Las Vegas at the Desert Inn and went to Japan for a 30-concert tour. Bob sang in English and Japanese and thousands of Japanese teenagers chanted and screamed, "Bobu…Bobu." Turned out there were "Bobu Magulas" (teenage fan clubs) all over Japan. Before returning home, he landed a few gigs at some of the top night clubs in Tokyo, as well as television appearances and concerts throughout Japan. Over the next three years he would return to Japan nine times, perform in every major city, and record roughly nine LPs and 15 or more singles in both English and Japanese for Nippon Columbia and later with Sony CBS.
One of Bob's most memorable nights in Japan happened when he was invited to entertain at a small private function for Prime Minister Sato and his daughter, who was a fan. Joined by Minoru Muraoka, who played the shakuhachi (bamboo flute), Bob found it hard to believe that a farm boy from Illinois was singing old Japanese folk songs, in Japanese, to the Prime Minister of Japan! In an interview with The New York Times, the Prime Minister said that "Bob had formed a bridge of song between the countries."