James Rado

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James Rado BIO

Born an Aquarius in Venice, CA on January 23, 1932, James Alexander Radomski grew up in Rochester, New York and Washington, DC, along with his brother Ted and late beloved sister Charlotte. He resided in Hoboken, NJ until his death.

His daydream, since he was a teenager, was to write a Broadway musical. He taught himself how to write lyrics from intense study of the works of Rodgers & Hammerstein, Rodgers & Hart, Cole Porter and others, as well as pop music from the 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s. In college, he wrote the music and lyrics for two shows: Interlude at the University of Maryland and Cross Your Fingers at the Catholic University of America.

After a two-year gig in the U.S. Navy, Rado moved to New York in 1956 to be an actor. In the early 60s he formed a singing group, James and the Argyles. He wrote all the songs and borrowed $200 from his father to record two songs with his four male back-up singers dressed in kilts and argyle knee socks.

Five years later he got his first Broadway break when the famed director and teacher Lee Strasberg plucked him from an acting class for a small part in June Havoc's Marathon '33 starring Julie Harris. This led to a string of acting roles in Luther, Generation, The Knack and, in 1964, Hang Down Your Head And Die where he met fellow actor Gerome Ragni.

He and Ragni became fast friends and he told Ragni about his daydream of creating a Broadway musical and proposed that they team-up to write a show about the hippies and the anti-war movement which was happening all around them. Ragni came aboard with some of his exciting experimental poetry, his own brand of homespun humor, and a potent theatrical imagination.

In 1966, in the midst of writing HAIR, Rado got a leading role as Richard the Lionhearted in the James Goldman play The Lion in Winter starring Robert Preston, Rosemary Harris and Christopher Walken.

By 1967, three years from the first idea to collaborate, Rado and Ragni had a presentable text called HAIR. No one wanted to produce it...until a chance meeting. On a train back to New York after an acting gig at Yale University (in Megan Terry's VIET ROCK), Gerome Ragni sat across from another passenger - the producer Joseph Papp. Ragni handed Papp the HAIR script. Papp liked what he read and called the 'creative trio' into his office to hear the score. By now, Galt MacDermot was well into composing the music for their lyrics. With Galt at the piano, Rado and Ragni sang their songs for Papp.

Papp decided to open his newly-founded New York Shakespeare Festival/Public Theater (on New York City's Lower East Side) with HAIR. On October 17, 1967, Rado and Ragni's show first saw the light of the stage, directed by Gerald Freedman, where it ran for eight weeks. Michael Butler saw a performance of HAIR and acquired the rights from Joe Papp to move the production, under his auspices as an independent producer, to the Cheetah Nightclub (for one month).

HAIR's success with audiences continued and the authors convinced Butler to re-cast the show adding a new director of their choosing (Tom O'Horgan) and an advanced script which included 13 new songs...all with the idea of moving the show to Broadway. The new cast (Tribe) was comprised of five performers from The Public Theater show, plus 17 new faces.

HAIR opened on Broadway in the Spring of 1968 and starred Rado and Ragni in the lead roles of Claude and Berger (respectively).

A revival of HAIR was presented by The Public Theater in Central Park in the summer of 2008, directed by Diana Paulus under the guidance of Rado. The production moved to Broadway in 2009 and won the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical.

In 2009 Rado was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

In 2019, the original 1968 Broadway cast recording of HAIR was inducted into the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress.

In 1969, Rado, Ragni and MacDermot also won a Grammy Award for Best Score from an Original Cast Show Album.

Rado remained active until his death and in the intervening years, has been working on two other pieces: American Rainbow and Sun, in addition to supervising various productions of HAIR around the world.

James Rado Photos


Broadway Transfer, 1968


Richard Lionheart

[Regional (US)]
Regional Revival, 1964





James Rado Videos

James Rado News

Andrew Polec, Jordan Dobson, Olivia Puckett & More Will Star in HAIR at Two River Theater

Get all the details about the upcoming production of HAIR at Two River Theater. Meet the cast and creative team, and mark your calendars for the opening night on October 15. Don't miss this groovy musical experience!

HAIR to Play Portland Center Stage Beginning Next Month

Portland Center Stage will kick off their 2023-24 season with a spectacular high-energy musical that's all about community: directed by Isaac Lamb, HAIR begins preview performances on September 30, opens on October 6, and runs through November 5 on the mainstage.

Review: HAIR- THE TRIBAL LOVE ROCK MUSICAL at Seacoast Repertory Theatre

'Hair' is well worth seeing especially for those who lived through the tumultuous times.

Skokie Theatre Presents HAIR and THE PRINCESS STRIKES BACK This Summer

Skokie Theatre, one of Chicago's respected historic suburban North Shore theaters, is following up its opening weekend of the Broadway classic HAIR with the announcement of two performances of the award-winning one-woman show The Princess Strikes Back on Friday, August 11 and 18.

Tickets to HAIR at Two River Theater to Go on Sale in July

Two River Theater has revealed onsale dates for their production of the American Love-Rock Musical, Hair, directed by Craig Noel Award winner James Vásquez. Learn how to purchase tickets!

World Premiere of Kate Hamill's THE SCARLET LETTER & More Set for Two River Theater 2023/2024 Season

Two River Theater has announced its 2023/2024 30th Anniversary Season. This will be the first slate of programming at Two River for new Artistic Director Justin Waldman and Managing Director Nora DeVeau-Rosen.

PRIVATE JONES World Premiere, THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY & More Set for Signature Theatre 2023/24 Season

Signature Theatre has announced its 34th season, featuring six musicals and one play in a season lineup that includes one world premiere and three DC premieres. Learn how to purchase tickets.

Portland Center Stage Sets 2023-2024 Season Featuring HAIR, WHAT THE CONSTITUTION MEANS TO ME & More

Portland Center Stage has revealed its 2023-2024 Season. The eight-play lineup kicks off in September with a mix of spectacular, fierce, and engaging plays offering a thrilling balance of beloved classics, iconic music, and vibrant stories that all investigate our current moment. 

Michael Butler, Producer Of Broadway's Original HAIR, Passes Away At 95

Michael Butler, famed producer of the musical Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical, passed peacefully November 7, 2022 at the Los Angeles Jewish Home for the Aging in Reseda, CA.  He was born November 26, 1926 in Chicago, Illinois.

Rooftop Musical Society to Present HAIR in November

This November (11/4-11/6 & 11/10-11/12) Rooftop Musical Society will take on HAIR, The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical with book and lyrics by Gerome Ragni and James Rado and music by Galt MacDermot. The production marks the company's return to fully-staged musicals after their pandemic hiatus. Known for creating unique theatrical experiences, this will be HAIR as you've never seen it before.

West Bay Community Theater to Present HAIR-IN CONCERT in August

West Bay Community Theater will present a concert version of the original tribal love-rock musical, HAIR on Saturday, August 13th, 2022 in Wickford, RI. The performance will take place on Saturday, August 13th @ 8pm.

Weston Theater Company Presents HAIR Beginning This Month

Weston Theater Company presents the American tribal love-rock musical: HAIR, playing July 20 – August 13 at the Weston Playhouse. 

Wake Up With BWW 6/23: BACK TO THE FUTURE Teases Broadway Run, and More!

Today's top stories include footage of Neil Diamond attending first preview of the pre-Broadway run of A Beautiful Noise in Boston! Plus, Back to the Future has teased its 2023 Broadway run with an all new teaser trailer.

HAIR Co-Creator James Rado Dies at 90

James Rado, the Tony and Grammy Award-winning sole surviving co-creator of the ground-breaking Broadway musical HAIR - The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical, died peacefully Tuesday evening, June 21, 2022 in New York City surrounded by his loving family. 

Photos: Cortland Rep Presents HAIR As Part of 50th Anniversary Season

Cortland Repertory Theatre kicks off their 50th anniversary summer season at the Little York Pavilion in Preble with the CRT debut production of the tribal rock musical Hair with book and lyrics by Gerome Ragni and James Rado, and music by Galt MacDermot.

Cortland Rep Opens 50th Anniversary Summer Season With HAIR

Cortland Repertory Theatre kicks off their 50th anniversary summer season at the Little York Pavilion in Preble with the CRT debut production of the tribal rock musical Hair with book and lyrics by Gerome Ragni and James Rado, and music by Galt MacDermot.

CRT Box Office Opens For All Summer Sales on May 23

The Cortland Repertory Theatre Box Office will open Monday, May 23rd for all summer ticket sales for their 50th anniversary summer season.  CRT's Box Office is located at CRT Downtown, 24 Port Watson Street in downtown Cortland and is open Monday – Friday from 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM, and on Saturdays from noon – 6:00 PM. 

60's Band The Cowsills Perform Title Song from Broadway's HAIR

Yesterday, May 6, 2022, the The Cowsills appeared at the New Orleans Jazz Festival  and on the famed Gentilly Stage performed the title song from the legendary Broadway musical HAIR, as the climactic final number of their set this afternoon. The SRO festival crowd went wild! 

HAIR IL MUSICAL al Teatro Nazionale di Milano dal 2 al 5 maggio

Torna a Milano Il Musical HAIR Prodotto Da MTSentertainment in collaborazione con la Compagnia dell’Alba. Dal 2 al 5 maggio al Teatro Nazionale CheBanca.

Cortland Rep Announces 50th Anniversary Summer Season For 2022

Cortland Repertory Theatre has announced their 2022 5-show summer season to be held at the Little York Pavilion in Preble, NY, as a celebration of their 50th Anniversary. The season will run from June 8 – August 20 and will contain three musicals and two plays.


James Rado has appeared on Broadway in 3 shows.

James Rado has not appeared in the West End

James Rado has written 4 shows including Hair (Bookwriter), Rainbow (Composer/Lyricist), Jack Sound (Bookwriter/Lyricist), Patti LuPone: Matters of the Heart (Lyricist).

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