Stephen J Lawrence death: Sesame Street composer dies, aged 82

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Sesame Street composer Stephen J Lawrence (Wikimedia Commons)
Sesame Street composer Stephen J Lawrence (Wikimedia Commons)

American music composer Stephen J Lawrence died at a New Jersey hospital on 30 December, his family confirmed on Sunday. He was 82.

His wife Cantor Cathy Lawrence confirmed the news to The Hollywood Reporter but did not specify a cause of death at the time.

Long-time composer and music director of Sesame Street, Lawrence was born on 5 September 1939.

Over a 30-year-long stint with the PBS show, Lawrence composed over 300 songs and scores – including “Fuzzy and Blue (and Orange)”, which he co-wrote with David Axelrod.

He won three Daytime Emmy awards for outstanding achievement and composition for his work on the hit children’s television show between 1982 and 2012.

Lawrence also composed the score for an episode of Nickelodeon show The Wubbulous World of Dr Seuss, produced by the Jim Henson Company.

Notably, Lawrence is also recognised as the musical director and co-music producer of Marlo Thomas’s 1972 certified gold album Free to Be...You and Me.

In 1998, Lawrence co-founded the nonprofit Quill Entertainment Company with acclaimed playwright Granville Burgess.

According to its website, the organisation drives education through entertainment, with a focus on improving American children’s knowledge about the country’s values and ideals.

The music director of Sooner or Later, Lawrence co-wrote the 1979 film’s gold single “You Take My Breath Away” as well as three other songs.

His other composer credits include Robert DeNiro-starrer Bang the Drum Slowly (1973), One Summer Love (1976), iconic horror movie Alice, Sweet Alice (1976), and the 1991 HBO animated musical The Tale of Peter Rabbit, starring Carol Burnett.

Lawrence also served as the music director of Reform Jewish congregation Temple Sinai, from 2003 until his death.

The prolific music composer his survived by his wife, brother Robert, daughter and son-in-law Hannah Jones and Seth Anderson, grandson Arthur, and stepsons Sam and Nick Kline.

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