Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music


SCOTT, Bobby

(b 29 January 1937, Mt Pleasant NY; d 5 November 1990) Pianist, vocalist, composer, teacher; also played vibes, accordion, other instruments, but best known as a fine jazz pianist who also sang. His first teacher was Dorothea Anderson LaFollette, who taught the legendary William Kapell; he studied composition with Edvard Moritz, a pupil of Debussy. Scott worked with Louis Prima, Tony Scott (no relation), Gene Krupa while still a teenager; recorded with Krupa on Verve. He had his own no. 13 hit 'Chain Gang' '56 on ABC- Paramount (not his own song and not the same as the later Sam Cooke hit). His albums included '53 tracks on The Jazz Keyboards on Savoy (others by Marian McPartland, Joe Bushkin, Lennie Tristano); trio, sextet, septet LPs on Bethlehem '54-5; trio and quintet LPs on ABC '55-6; two trio LPs on Verve '57-8; two LPs on Atlantic '60: one with big band and vocals, another a smaller group playing Scott's incidental music for NYC play A Taste Of Honey (filmed in UK '61). The theme tune was first recorded by the Victor Feldman Quartet '62; other hit versions included Martin Denny '62, Tony Bennett '64 (words by Ric Marlow; Beatles covered it on their first LP). It won a Grammy for Best Instrumental Theme '62 and three more Grammies '65 when Herb Alpert revived it for a top 10 hit.

Scott was music director for Dick Haymes in the early '60s, wrote LPs The City and Legends for Larry Elgart on MGM; made a quartet LP '64, quintet LP '65 on Mercury; played on several tracks on a Chet Baker LP on Limelight '65; made two big band LPs '61-2 with Quincy Jones, subsequently played piano on nearly all of Jones's Mercury LPs and two on A&M, accompanied Tatia Vega and John Lee Hooker on Jones's soundtrack for The Colour Purple '86. Meanwhile he produced pop sessions at Mercury, Columbia (including Aretha Franklin), tracks by Marvin Gaye recently released on CBS; discovered/ recorded guitarist/vocalist Perry Miller, changing his name to Jesse Colin Young '64 (see Youngbloods). Took singer/songwriter Bobby Hebb back to Mercury after Hebb's contract there had run out; Scott then left Mercury but Hebb recorded international hit 'Sunny' '66. (Hebb, b 26 July 1938 in Nashville, d 8 August 2010, was was one of the first blacks to appear on Grand Ole Opry, at age 12; wrote more than 1000 published songs including Grammy winner 'A Natural Man', a hit for Lou Rawls '71). Scott worked for Bobby Darin, Sarah Vaughan, Harry Belafonte etc; songs included 'He Ain't Heavy--He's My Brother' (hit by the Hollies '70), 'Where Are You Going' (sung by Jerry Butler in soundtrack of film Joe '70), 'Slaves (Don't You Know My Name?)' (sung by Dionne Warwick in film Slaves '69), incidental music for play Dinny and the Witches; compositions for harp, two string trios (one called The Giacometti Variations, because a part was used in a radio advert for Giacometti exhibition at Museum of Modern Art), etc; writing for guitar included gorgeous Solitude Book and The Book Of Hours for piano and guitar: the former was recorded with Carlos Barbosa-Lima on guitar, but record companies didn't want to know.