Monday, September 28, 2009

JACK SCOTT: The Way He Walked (And Still Does)

Jack in 2002

Jack Scott (born Giovanni Dominico Scafone Jr., January 24, 1936, Windsor, Ontario, Canada) is an Canadian/American singer and songwriter. He was the first white rock and roll star to come out of Detroit, Michigan. He has been called "undeniably the greatest Canadian rock and roll singer of all time."

Scott spent his early childhood in Windsor across the river from Detroit. When he was 10, Scott's family moved to Hazel Park, a Detroit suburb. He grew up listening to hillbilly music and was taught to play the guitar by his father. As a teenager, he pursued a singing career and recorded as 'Jack Scott.' At the age of 18, he formed the Southern Drifters. After leading the band for three years, he signed to ABC Records as a solo artist in 1957.

After recording two good-selling local hits for ABC-Paramount Records in 1957, he switched to the Carlton record label and had a double-sided national hit in 1958 with "Leroy" (#11) / "My True Love" (#3).[1] The record sold over one million copies, earning Scott his first gold disc.[3] Later in 1958, "With Your Love" (#28) reached the Top 40. In all, six of 12 songs on his first album became hit singles. On most of these tracks, he was backed up by the vocal group, the Chantones.

He served in the United States Army during most of 1959, just after "Goodbye Baby" (#8) made the Top Ten. 1959 also saw him chart with "The Way I Walk" (#35). At the beginning of 1960, Scott again changed record labels, this time to Top Rank Records.[1] He then recorded four Billboard Hot 100 hits - "Oh, Little One," "It Only Happened Yesterday" (#38), "What In the World's Come Over You" (#5) and "Burning Bridges" (#3). "What In the World's Come Over You" was Scott's second gold disc winner. Scott continued to vacillate between cowboy crooner and rough-edged rocker throughout the remainder of the 1960s and 1970s, recording for a variety of labels, including Groove and Dot. In the early '70s, Scott performed live in Detroit. In 1974, he managed to have a minor country music hit with his Dot single "You're Just Gettin' Better." In May 1977, Scott recorded a Peel session for BBC Radio 1 disc jockey, John Peel.

1977 saw Scott headline the biggest '50s rockabilly revival tour in England. Tour also included Charlie Feathers, Warren Smith, and Buddy Knox and sold out everywhere. Their show at the Rainbow Theatre was recorded and released by EMI Records as a live album in 1978. Mike Curb, a long time Jack Scott fan, signed Scott to the Curb label in 1990. The result was country single "Cooper Cagney and Gable", a "Greatest Hits" package featuring highlights from the Carlton and Top Rank label years with the bonus of a new recording of the Roy Orbison's song "Running Scared" and a guest appearance singing "Burning Bridges" on Ronnie McDowell's "Unchained Melody" album released on Curb in 1992. Other artists guesting with McDowell on the album include Jerry Lee Lewis, Conway Twitty, Bobby Vinton and Wayne Newton.

* In 1989, Jack Scott was honored when Dave Marsh included "Goodbye Baby" as one of the 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made in his book The Heart of Rock & Soul. * But Jack's most enduring song may well be "The Way I Walk." The song was recorded early in the so called "punk" or "new wave" "return to the basics" movement of the late 70's by Robert Gordon (1978) and The Cramps (1979). Gordon's version was most recently featured in the movie "Natural Born Killers" although, unfortunately, it is not included in the soundtrack album. In 1993 a five CD set was released by the German Bear Family label collecting his work from several labels from 1957 to 1965.

Jack Scott charted more times (19) in a shorter period of time (41 months) than any other recording artist -- except The Beatles. Fascinated by the music of Hank Williams, young Jack took up guitar at age eight and was pretty good by the time his family moved to Hazel Park, Michigan in 1946. While in his teens he began performing regularly on radio.

At age 18, Jack formed his own band and soon caught the ear of ABC Paramount A&R man Joe Carleton. Three 1957 singles were cut, but
when they were unsuccessful, Scott was dropped by the label. In early 1958, at his own expense, Jack recorded two new tunes, “Leroy” (about
a frequently-jailed real-life friend he called “Greaseball”) and “My True Love.” As it happened, Joe Carleton, who had just
started his own record company, elected to buy the masters and release them on Carleton. “’Leroy’ took off like lightning,” Scott
remembered -- climbing to #25. When DJs flipped the single over, they found “My True Love,” which did even better -- soaring to #3
and selling a million copies.

Half the songs on Jack’s debut album (one of the first in true stereo) became chart singles, including “With Your Love,” “My True Love,”
“The Way I Walk” and “Goodbye Baby.” A stint in the Army from February to May 1959 slowed Scott’s momentum, but only briefly. "I was with Carlton; they had the right to record me,” Jack recalled. “Another company, Starfire, had my management and publishing. Starfire got into hassles with Carlton because Joe Carlton wanted
publishing as well. Next thing I knew, I was pulled off Carlton and onto Top Rank It was on Top Rank that Jack Scott was best showcased as a reverberating balladeer. While the same four-chord climbing sequence was often endlessly repeated, it was all the back-up needed
for Jack to take “What In The World’s Come Over You” to #5 in 1960, followed quickly by “Burning Bridges” (which hit #3). “Oh Little One” and “It Only Happened Yesterday” also landed on the Hit Parade.

Scott went on to record for Capitol, RCA Victor, Dot and other labels, but with little success. “I've never had a job outside music,” Jack reports. “I do club dates around Michigan, staying pretty close to home most of the time. Sometimes I play the same club five nights a
week. It's usually 40 minutes on stage, then a 20-minute break and so on for five hours."

In 1993 a five CD box set compiling Jack Scott’s 1957-65 output was
released on the Bear Family label. Jack wrote every one of his own hits --
except “Burning Bridges.”

* Today, Jack Scott rarely performs in concert. He has always been uncomfortable with the rigors of touring and the vagaries of backup bands provided by promoters. Occasionally he appears in Europe with a handpicked group of musicians.

* Recommended listening: Jack Scott "Live 1961" on the Live Gold Label (1991). This was, in fact, recorded at The Crazy Horse Saloon in Detroit in 1990 and released under this title without Jack's knowledge. It is recommended because of a new Jack Scott composition on the CD called "The National Anthem of Rock 'N Roll" using Duane Eddy's "Rebel Rouser" melody. Today Scott's great pop ballads are better known than him. Rockabilly fans prefer his rockin' sides, but most are not put off by the ballads because of Scott's distinctive sound.


History of Rock and Roll

Jack Scott Music

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