Rockabilly from Michigan
Jack Scott: A Star of the Great Lakes


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Posted 8/15/01

courtesy Warren Cosford

Posted 8/10/01:

MORE REPORTS ON JACK'S DETROIT SHOWS




Review, posted 6/17/01:

JACK SCOTT AT TBONZ IN DETROIT.

Just came back from the show. What a time! I've'seen Jack perform for about 25 years. He's never been bad. But I've never heard him where he's been this good.' The first show started at 9 and ended about 10:30. The next show started shortly after 11 and was still going on when I left at 1. He was having so much fun he just didn't want to leave the stage. I'm writing this at 3AM. He may still be there.' Now...of course....if all he did was sing Jack Scott Songs he could have been there for hours. But he was singing Everything. Gospel, Country even Italian. He was even singing Roy Orbison and hitting the high notes. When he sang "It's Only Make Believe" after telling a little story about his friendship with Conway Twitty he got a standing ovation. At one point he started taking requests. Most of the songs requested the band didn't know, and certainly hadn't rehearsed. So Jack turned his guitar up a notch and let them fend for themselves. It was the closest thing to a "jam" I've ever heard him do.
Cheers, WC



Jack Scott "Brilliant" at Hemsby 26 R&R Weekender

Posted May 21, 2001 (Radio West Suffolk)
- Jack Scott and his band left a sold out crowd at Hemsby cheering for more Saturday Night. From the minute Jack opened the show with "Baby, She's Gone" there was magic in the air. Fans hung on to his every lyric, sang along with many of their favorites and renewed a long-standing love affair with an artist whose talent has not diminished over time.

The audience consisted of ages ranging from 10 years to 75. The veteran fans did not, at first, believe this was truly Jack Scott. He looked too young, his voice too pure and the band too "spot on" to be an old artist revisiting his past. No, this was a brand new talent who sang with clarity and strength and they loved every minute of it because it was the songs they loved and wanted to hear. Jack's 75-minute show was a non-stop list of songs he had written and recorded. His encore included a rocking rendition of Elvis Presley's "I'm Evil" and he walked off stage leaving the fans truly breathless.

Pete Owen, DJ on 1350am - Radio West Suffolk writes: "Seeing Jack Scott. I was not disappointed - he was brilliant. The repertoire of songs was just what I had hoped for, and the re-creation of the sound achieved on record was amazing, including the American band backing him and 'deputizing' for the Chantones. Thank Jack on behalf of all his fans for coming to the UK again."

Willie Jeffries, Promoter of the Hemsby shows: "I thought Jack and his excellent band with their fine back up vocals gave a superb show. Over the past 23 years I have seen Jack many times in Paris, Detroit and London and his performance at Hemsby was by far the best. Writer, Ian Wallis and I both rated Jack's show the highlight of the weekend."

Jack's band consists of Rudy Varner (Standup Bass), Steve Nardella (Lead Guitar), Lonnie Varner (Drums), and a special appearance by Clive Osborn (Saxophone).

Jack ended the evening after spending over two hours at the autograph table visiting with fans who had come from all over the world to see their hero. Had time allowed, it would have lasted well into the next day, as the line had not diminished. Some Love affairs never die; they simply lie dormant in anticipation of the next rendezvous.






Jack Scott had more U.S. singles (19) in a shorter period
of time (41 months) than any other recording artist with the exception of The Beatles.

(source: Billboard Magazine)



Six of 12 songs on his first album became hit singles.

Jack wrote all of his own hits except one ("Burning Bridges").

Jack is one of the artists to not only have hits on the pop charts, but
his records have also landed on the black and country charts as well.




Lately, there has been a renewed interest in Jack's music career
largely as a result of his successful appearances throughout Europe.


"The Way I Walk" and "Goodbye Baby" where featured in movies.

"The Very Best of Jack Scott" was released in September 2000.



Four of his singles became "Top 10" hits ...
and he recorded four Gold Record Awards.



JACK SCOTT "COVER" RECORDS
STRANGE DESIRE - BEN VAUGHN - 1988/92
I'M DREAMING OF YOU - ROBERT GORDON - 1991
THE WAY I WALK - ROBERT GORDON - 1977
THE WAY I WALK - THE CRAMPS - 1977
THE WAY I WALK - THE VEES - 1998
WHAT IN THE WORLD - SONNY JAMES - 1974
WHAT IN THE WORLD - TAM WHITE - 1975
WHAT IN THE WORLD - EDDIE ARNOLD - 1975
WHAT IN THE WORLD - TOM JONES - 1981
WHAT IN THE WORLD - WANDA JACKSON - 1988
WHAT IN THE WORLD - SANDY MASON - ?
WHICH WAY SHALL I GO - SANDY MASON - ?
LEROY - CRAZY BOYS - 1997
I NEVER FELT LIKE THIS - THE CARPETBAGGERS - 1998
THE WAY I WALK - SWAMP ZOMBIES - 1993
THE WAY I WALK - DANNY Gatton - 1996
THE WAY I WALK - 68 COMEBACK - 1998
MY TRUE LOVE - MINA (Italian) - 1999
BURNING BRIDGES - GLEN CAMPBELL - 1967
BURNING BRIDGES - GEORGE JONES - ?
WHAT IN THE WORLD - EDDIE ARNOLD - ?
WHAT IN THE WORLD - WANDA JACKSON - ?
--Warren Cosford



It's All About Jack ...

Posted October 19, 1997
RETURN TO HAZEL PARK
From: Warren Cosford (milliganstew@yahoo.com)

To get to Hazel Park Michigan, you take Highway 75 North out of Detroit and get off at Nine Mile. If you turn left, within a mile it's squalor, burned out buildings and people you feel you should run away from. If you turn right, it's lower middle class America. Like a movie set from Leave It To Beaver. Well, maybe not quite that upscale, but, Small Town, well kept. Very little is new. It's like taking a trip back into the 50s. The buildings are, at most, three stories and almost adobe-like. Well spaced. A barber shop, next to a law office, next to a bank, next to a garage, next to a diner. And the diner has been family owned and operated for years. With pizza, coney islands, real french fries and cream that still comes from individual packets. Steak is on the menu - but only for show.

Hazel Park Michigan could be in Nebraska. But it's not. Hazel Park is where Rock and Roll began in Detroit. With Giovanni Scafone Jr. who became Jack Scott. Jack Scott took Hazel Park to The World. 19 Chart Records in 41 months between June 1958 and November 1961. And then, of course, he had the regional hits in 1957. But who's counting?

It's October 19th 1997 - and I was there yesterday. As Detroit burned, Hazel Park survived. It was reconfirmed yesterday as they celebrated the opening of the new John R. road. Jack Scott was there. With the people he grew up with and the people who watched him grow. Musically, to most of the world, Detroit is The Motown Sound. Barry Gordy created the magic and The Legend. But before Barry there was Jack. Barry knows it. And remembers. Jack recalls Barry Gordy Jr. selling songs outside the Brill Building in New York. Barry would come up and introduce himself to Jack. Jack was the hometown boy that had become a Star.

Two years ago, Barry Gordy Jr. came to Detroit to sign copies of his autobiography. I waited in line for an hour for my turn. And when it came, Gordy barely looked at me as he signed. Everybody was talking to him. I leaned over and whispered..."Jack Scott sends his regards." Barry held up his hand. The conversation stopped. He looked into my eyes and said: "How is Jack?" I said "He's fine and remembers you well". Then Barry Gordy Jr. said: "Well, give my regards to Jack, he started it for Detroit".

Yesterday, Hazel Park remembered as well. There was the lady with the '55 Chevy and the license plate "My2Love", the Police Chief that "bounced" for Jack at his club, the neighbors I met who "grew up around the corner from Jack", Jack's mother who hadn't seen him perform in years - and hundreds of fans who had heard it was happening. For a moment - with no sense of pretense at all - we were back in the 50s again. Where it all began.

-Warren Cosford (milliganstew@yahoo.com))


A Night at the Horseshoe

By BARBARA AMIEL
JS

(This article was publish in 1982 when Barbara was the editor of the Toronto Sun). - Last Saturday night down at the Horseshoe tavern on Toronto's Queen Street West, the cover charge went up to a staggering $6 per person. For those of us who drop in to the Horseshoe from time to time, it was an unprecedented hike from the usual $2 or $3 we generally fork out for the pleasure of sitting there. The Horseshoe is not one of your posher spots in town. The Imperial Room crowd doesn't make it there. It may be that the bar has heard of campari and can handle martinis. But the specialty of the house is beer. It has a decent size bar, a smallish bandstand and a dance floor in front of it with tables that can probably manage a couple of hundred or more people. There's a games room, too, with darts, video games and other bizarre practices into which I rarely delve. The house wine is not memorable. Nor is the music, sometimes. But the ambience is pleasant. The crowd is young, working-class and utterly benign. If there are fights, I've never been discomforted by them. They must be handled with swift merciless dispatch.

GRAFFITI, BEER AND CRINOLINES The sound coming from the bandstand is usually distinguished by its loudness and thumping beat. I've enjoyed some good reggae there. Most of all I enjoy watching the people. The more things change, the more they are the same. The young people are utterly indistinguishable from those of my time some 20 years ago. Their behavior is no more sophisticated, no more aggressive. Downstairs, in the washroom the graffiti has the same charming simplicity. Beer is the intoxicant of preference, not cigarettes or related products. When I went to use the telephone, I had to steer around a necking couple who were reasonably embarrassed but sufficiently engaged to continue. They enjoy themselves. They seem about as pragmatic as we were - and about as idealistic. Fashions and tastes change, of course. But these are superficial indicators. Those who are pulling themselves up by their bootstraps want to go into marine-biology now. In my day they wanted to become lawyers. Those who concentrate on appearances choose clothes that defy my pen, but look terrific.

We did the same. And our bizarre tastes in crinolines, pony tails and batwing sweaters probably looked terrific on us. I don't know. I only remember that I would have killed for a skirt made of felt with appliques on it. But last Saturday night at the Horseshoe was not only for them. It was for me. For my set. For those of us who went to school in the fifties and early sixties, whose social lives revolved around the sock-hop, the Sadie Hawkins dance and the terrible fear that no one would ask us to dance. It was for people who remember the exquisite thrill of necking in the front seat of a car and wondering how far you should let him go. The reason for the $6 cover charge was the appearance at the Horseshoe tavern of country-rock singer Jack Scott. His name, curiously enough, never quite made it into the coinage of the period I'm talking about. He sang when the Platters were on every juke box along with Presley, Bill Haley, the Everly Brothers and singers whose first name was always Bobby. But I remember the songs Scott wrote. "Goodbye Baby," "My True Love," "Leroy." He had 19 hit records between 1958 and 1961 and back in 1958 I sweated forehead-to-forehead through his lyrics, with one arm held rigidly down at the side while the other arched artificially over my partner's neck. It was called dancing.

Scott surfaced again recently in the score of the film Diner. That dark blue beat with its insistent pounding started to come back again. It was quite crowded at the Horseshoe in spite of the six bucks. The crowd divided into two: those who remembered and those who took a certain camp delight in what was "old-time." It was not altogether enjoyable to be a part of the first set. Scott doesn't have The Fabulous Chantones backing him up any more. He had a five-piece band. And before his set, he sat alone at the bar.

ROCKIN' WITH JACK SCOTT Once he made a fortune. He was the Canadian boy from Windsor who moved across the border at age eight and grew up to become a real pop star. Last Friday night he was missing the piece of equipment that picks up the bass notes in his voice and gives them reverb. But the bass notes were still there. The voice is strong, powerful and dark blue. Usually, at the Horseshoe, the dance floor is jammed when the band is on. Not Friday. They were listening. A few kids jived. One girl had it all together - almost. Her Varsity cardigan was just long enough. Her bobby socks were as white as the white part of her two-tone saddle shoes. Only her hair was wrong. She didn't have a pony tail. The lyrics spoke of another time when boyfriends were "untrue" and "cheating women" left a man "broken and alone" with the pain of a "two-timin' woman." After the set Scott was not alone. Someone gave him a planter of roses. There was a kid with albums to be autographed. And Scott was flogging his new Attic record release of all his old hits. But it must be a long way from the concert halls to the Horseshoe and it takes a real man, a mensch as we say, to put your heart and soul into a performance for the $6 cover charge crowd on Queen Street West. And he did it. May we all.





JACK'S BIO:

WHEN JACK SCOTT FIRST APPEARED on the rock'n'roll scene in the late Fifties he immediately demonstrated a highly individual and powerful style; like Bo Diddley, Jerry Lee Lewis or any other well-known pioneer, there could be no mistaking a Jack Scott record. Considering the quality of his best work and the simple 'gut' impact of his music, it may seem surprising that his songs have not been revived more often and that he himself remains comparatively little-known.

The reason why his songs have seldom been revived may be due, in part, to the continuing confusion over his catalogue, which has meant that Scott tracks have rarely appeared on rock'n'roll compilation albums. Add to this the fact that he has never had much enthusiasm for touring and it becomes more understandable why an artist whom many regard as among the very best should be something of a well kept secret.

It was his ballads that marked Jack Scott's unique contribution to rock'n'roll. They were the slowest, heaviest, gutsiest ballads ever recorded. They were also beautifully simple. His reverberating voice was reinforced by a male backing chorus as he plodded over the most basic of chord progressions - sometimes the same four-chord 'climbing' sequence repeated over and over again. On his records the acoustic guitar had a presence that made it sound as though your ear was pressed close to the body of the instrument itself.

The rockers displayed another characteristic element of Scott's style - his tongue-in-cheek humour. On the song 'Geraldine' (1958) he conveyed his lustful designs by repeating the girl's name 94 times - and the backing vocalists chipped in with a few more while he paused for breath. There wasn't much time left on the record for a more detailed analysis of his feelings, but the point had been made.

He used the same technique to amusing effect on 'Found A Woman' (1960); repeating the title was considered sufficient to indicate the idea he wished to convey, and he rounded off each verse with a line like: "Well, I told ma, ma told pa, pa said mmmm.' His sly delivery was worthy of the Coasters.




JS TEENAGE TALENT

Jack Scott - his real surname was Scafone - was born on 24 January 1938 in Windsor, Ontario, in Canada. When he was in his teens he moved with his family to Detroit and began writing songs. At the age of 19 he showed sufficient flair as a songwriter to land a contract with a music publisher, which led to him signing with ABC Records as a performer. Although he cut a few singles none made much impression. At ABC, Scott met producer Joe Carlton, who left the company in 1958 and set up his own label, Carlton. Scott went with him.

He later recalled how he had recorded two of his songs, "Leroy" and "My True Love," at his own expense. "I took them to a distribution outlet I knew and they didn't really care for them, but there was someone else there at the time who heard them and encouraged me to let them have the tape. Next thing I knew I'd signed a contract, and 'Leroy' took off like lightning."

The two songs were released back-to-back on Carlton and the record became a double-sided smash, selling more than a million copies. "My True Love" hit Number 3 in Billboard's Hot Hundred and made the Top Ten in Britain. "With Your Love" made Number 28 in the US later that year, "Goodbye Baby" peaked at Number 8 early in 1959 and was followed by "The Way I Walk." a Top Forty hit that Robert Gordon revived in 1978.

Scott transferred to the new Top Rank label in 1959 and scored another huge success in the New Year with "What In The World's Come Over You." The song gave Scott his second gold disc, reaching Number 5 in the USA and Number 6 in the UK. Further successes followed - "Burning Bridges" (Number 3), "Cool Water"/"It Only Happened Yesterday" - but Scott was by then being steered towards a mainstream country style.




On a visit to Britain in 1977 he explained the circumstances surrounding his switch from Carlton to Top Rank; he admitted that he had been somewhat naive in those days. "I was with Carlton; they had the right to record me. Another company, Starfire, had my management and publishing. I wasn't really sure what was best for me; I just went along with what they said. Starfire got into hassles with Carlton because Joe Carlton wanted publishing as well as recording rights on a particular song. Next thing I knew, they'd pulled me off Carlton and onto Top Rank. I didn't get paid. Then I heard that Carlton had gone bankrupt, sold up, disappeared."

In 1961 Scott moved to Capitol where he cut three Hot Hundred Hits during the year before disappearing from the charts altogether. Because the two companies that issued his best records have long ceased business he has never been able to trace all the original master tapes of his songs nor be totally sure of his rights to them.

Since his years in the limelight, Scott has kept on playing and singing. "I do club dates around Michigan, staying pretty close to home most of the time. I've never had a job outside music ... 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."




JS RECALLING OLD TIMES

In the mid Seventies Scott reissued some of his old records. "I'd be working in the clubs and a lot of people would ask for my old Carlton records. I couldn't get hold of any but I knew there were a lot of pirates putting them out so I decided to do it myself, just to sell in the clubs. I called the label "Ponie". Then it just snowballed - sending them to the UK, Canada, wherever they wanted them. I'd kept copies of the master tracks of most of the songs, but some I had to dub from old records."

So Scott has just kept going. He has been happy to be "big in Michigan" for most of the time, but occasionally he has been lured further afield to prove to a wider audience that he is still in fine voice and can kick a pick-up band into convincing action. For those who are able to remember, he can conjure up memories of the handful of songs that earned him a place in the history of rock'n'roll.

  • -written in the 1980's - John Collis, "The History of Rock" part 24




    Jack Scott: Up-Close

    JS

    I WAS 13 IN 1958. Rock and Roll had just begun in Winnipeg. I think that the first Rock Record I bought was in 1957. It may have been "The Lord Made A Woman". I wonder who sang it. I wonder where it is now. I also bought "All I Have To Do Is Dream". It may always be on an Oldies station near you. They were on 78rpms. But it all really connected for me when I heard Jack Scott sing "My True Love". I was in love. His follow up was "With Your Love". They were on 45rpms.

    45s were supposed to be unbreakable. When I brought With Your Love home I thought I'd show my father how unbreakable it was. It wasn't. Then Jack put out an L.P. titled "Jack Scott". He was on the cover. I saw him for the first time. The liner notes said that he was a Canadian from Windsor, Ontario. I was sold.

    Back then, you really had to work to find out anything of substance about the people who made The Music. Unintentionally, perhaps, the mystery created a mystique. Gradually, some "Teen" magazines appeared in Winnipeg. I was later to find out that most of what was written was bullshit, however, almost nothing was written about Jack Scott. Yet his hits just kept on coming. Goodbye Baby, What In The World's Come Over You, Burning Bridges, and many more. 19 chart records in the 42 months between June of 1958 and November 1961.

    BUT HE WAS A GHOST. Occasionally he'd show up on American Bandstand. But said almost nothing. Along the way, he did a tribute album to his hero, Hank Williams. Then a Gospel Album. Then the hits stopped, but the records continued. For a while I could buy them in Winnipeg. Later I made a deal with a record store in Grand Forks North Dakota to send me anything that came in. Now Jack Scott REALLY WAS my secret.


    From Carlton, to Top Rank, to Capitol,
    to RCA Groove, to RCA, to Jubilee to ?

    After he had been on Capitol for a while and hadn't had a hit, I heard Laugh And The World Laughs With You on CKY's Battle of The New Sounds. Each day through the week a new record "battled" last nights winner, through a telephone poll, until a "Pick Hit of The Week" was chosen. I called. My mother called. All my friends were threatened with death if they didn't call. Jack won.

    On the Billboard charts, Jack Scott's last hit was in November 1961. In Winnipeg, Jack's last hit was in the summer of 1963. And it was Top 10. By the time I got to CHUM in 1970, Jack's records were "gold". Occasionally we'd play them on weekends - especially when "Canadian Content" became The Law. When the movie, American Graffiti became a hit, Gold became "Oldies". The "Boomers" were getting nostalgic. Some of Jack's hits began appearing on Oldies Compilations.

    Then, in 1976, I was part of the team that created a 64 hour documentary called "The Evolution of Rock". I got the chance to interview a lot of the people who made the Rock and Roll I grew up listening to. But should I interview Jack Scott? I knew he was still alive and recording. A year earlier I'd found a record of his on Dot at Ernie Tubb's Music Store in Nashville. It was a D.J. promo copy. That didn't look like it was a big commitment from the company. So just for fun I tracked down his phone number through a promo rep at Dot. I had it. But would I dare dial it? What if Jack was an %^^#&^?

    We were now in the final mixes of the documentary. We would play Jack Scott music...but would I dare to try for a Jack Scott interview? Of course I did. It was at a hotel in Windsor. And he was a nice man. Somewhat shy. Unassuming. And I knew more about him and his music than he remembered.

    The Evolution Of Rock became Billboard magazine's International Documentary of The Year. It was heard throughout the world in literally every English speaking country. It seemed to signal the beginning of Rock History as Journalism. Whole sections of bookstores were suddenly stocked with Rock Books. Few of them mentioned Jack Scott. By now I was programming Canada's number one FM station, CHUM-FM. A fellow named Dave Booth who worked at one of the first "oldies" record stores in Toronto called me. He had a chance to book Jack Scott into a club in Toronto called The Edge. He heard that I was a Jack Scott fan. Would I help promote the date?

    OF COURSE The Edge was an odd place for Jack to play. It had gained fame as one of the first clubs to book The Police before they became THE POLICE. The Edge was a "punk rock" club. But I discovered that Jack Scott was being "resurrected" as a Punk Rock Icon almost solely by a group called The Cramps. They had recorded one of Jack's minor hits called The Way I Walk. PunkRockdom had discovered Jack Scott. It was an amazing performance. Ovation after ovation. Almost effortlessly Jack Scott was, once again, a sensation.

    Steve Popovitch was a friend who owned a record company called Cleveland-International. He was best known as the man who took a chance and released the Meatloaf Bat Out of Hell album. Steve also managed singer Tom Jones. He mentioned to me that he was looking for some country sounding material for Jones. I suggested Jack Scott songs. A few weeks later Steve called me in the middle of the night. Over the telephone from the studio, I heard Tom Jones singing What In The World's Come Over You? What a rush! It was released as a single and made the Top 20 on the country charts.

    I was helping to resurrect my hero! It was 1981. Jack had just come back from a tour in Europe. He was amazed at the response particularly in England and France. Fans were requesting songs that Jack hadn't sung in 20 years! And they were bringing old Jack Scott albums to the concerts to be autographed. Some not so old. Jack's "resurrection" inspired bootlegs of recordings that hadn't been available in years. The solution was for Jack to release a Greatest Hits album. I contacted Al Mair at Attic Records in Toronto. Would he be interested in putting together a package? Sure. But could I get some publicity?

    I called Liam Lacey at the Toronto Globe and Mail, Canada's "national" daily. Liam had never heard of Jack, but remembered some of the songs. I made up a cassette and sent it to him. Liam interviewed Jack. The Globe and Mail article was sensational. The Attic Album of Jack's hits on Carlton Records followed. I wrote the liner notes. One of the stories Jack told Liam was about his first trip to England in 1975. Jack played The Rainbow Room in London. Backstage, after the show, he was signing autographs. Someone asked Jack to personalize an autograph to Robert Plant. Jack obliged. He had never heard of Plant. A few weeks later, Jack got a call at home. Would he be Robert's guest for a Led Zeppelin concert in New York? Of course. A plane came to pick him up.

    JS

    BUT IT GETS BETTER. A few years after Liam's article came out in The Globe, Robert Plant came to Toronto to launch his first solo album. There would be a press conference. No interviews. When Liam met Robert, he passed him a Jack Scott cassette. After the press conference was over, Liam was invited into a separate room. And it was there that Liam Lacey conducted the only one on one Robert Plant granted in Canada. Liam had done me a favour and helped to "remake" Jack. Jack had just helped to "make" Liam.

    Jack Scott played The Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto to launch Attic's album. By accident, famed editorial writer and Toronto Sun editor Barbara Amiel was in the crowd. Her article "A Night At The Horseshoe" was one of the most compelling articles about growing up with Rock and Roll I've ever read. Barbara is now Mrs. Conrad Black.

    Jack Scott's "The Original Recordings" was one of the first of the glossy compilation albums created, and the first of what became many Jack Scott "Greatest Hit" tributes as the CD came into vogue. It was important to Jack's career not only because his records were once again available for sale, but because they were once again available for radio. Because Jack wrote almost all the songs, airplay residuals put some food on the table. With new confidence, Jack began recording again. Nothing was released until 1987, when I introduced Jack to a Canadian country singer named Carole Baker. Her record company suggested that Jack and Carole go to Nashville to cut some duets. This resulted in two songs: The Best of Love and a re-recording of Burning Bridges.

    IN 1991, JACK CALL ME FOR SOME ADVICE. He had been asked to perform in Clear Lake, Iowa at a tribute to Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper. Was it a good idea? Jack, are you kidding?! For the benefit of those of you who have never read about Rock and Roll... Holly, Valens and The Bopper were killed in a plane crash outside of Mason City, Iowa on February 4, 1959 following a concert at The Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake. Shortly after movies about Holly and Valens were released in the late 70's and early 80's, The Surf began holding annual "tributes" to the event. To be asked to perform was an honour. I told Jack I'd go with him.

    The flight was Detroit/ St. Louis and then a small plane to Waterloo, Iowa. With us were Jack's wife Barb, his daughter Jackie, Jack's original guitar player Dave Rohillier and his wife and two of Jack's friends from Detroit. Meeting us in Clear Lake on a flight from Arizona via St. Louis would be Stan Getz, Jack's original bass player. Jack hadn't seen Stan in over fifteen years.

    When we got on the commuter plane in St. Louis, an attendant asked for a volunteer to take a later flight. We were overloaded! I volunteered. It would be the flight that Stan would be on and once in Waterloo, we could rent a car and drive together to Clear Lake and meet Jack and the rest of our party. I'd never met or seen Stan. On the flight to Waterloo, I tried to guess which one of the passengers he might be. I knew that, once we landed I'd know. It would be the guy picking up the bass guitar in luggage. He was the last person I would have guessed.

    Stan Getz had a full head of white hair and a neatly trimmed beard. He looked like a college professor. Jack has said that, when they were in Detroit together, Stan had been "an electronic genius" and had built many of the city's earliest studios. On the drive to Waterloo, I discovered that for many years Stan had traveled the world installing communications systems for governments of mostly "third world" countries. His specialty was interfacing. The reason he was available for Jack's show was that he had been working in Iran, Iraq and Kuwait. It was February 1991. The U.S. were in the area launching "Desert Storm". Stan came home.

    Once we arrived in Clear Lake and found Jack et al, Stan and I decided to share a room together in a Motel. We had no sooner checked in when the phone rang. It was the U.S. State Department for Stan. They had blown up Iran's communications system (which Stan had helped install), but the leadership were somehow still able to communicate with their soldiers. Maybe the old system was still working. Did Stan know anything about it? He didn't. Amazing!

    The next day we did a sound check at The Surf. Besides Dave and Stan, Jack would be backed up by The Memphis Rhythm Section. Also on the bill were Wanda Jackson and Carl Perkins. Jack would close the show. The soundcheck did not go well.

    JS

    The Memphis Rhythm Section were a group of musicians who had played on many early Rock and Roll records. They included Elvis Presley's original drummer D.J. Fontana. I had interviewed D.J. a couple of times. He remembered. But what he didn't remember was to listen to the tape Jack had sent him of the songs that he intended to perform that night. In particular, his drumming was all wrong on Jack's first hit, Baby She's Gone. For a moment, I thought Jack and D.J. would get into a fight.

    Instead they both sulked off stage. Jack was ready to cancel the show. I spoke to D.J. and tried to appeal to his ego. He promised to go back to the motel and listen to Jack's tape. Jack and our group went to dinner. We ordered, Jack didn't. Through most of his career, Jack Scott had been plagued by not being able to find musicians that could play his songs properly. It was one of the reasons he brought Stan and Dave into Clear Lake. He wanted this show to be great. I told Jack I had spoken to D.J. and not to worry. I was sure that ultimately, D.J. would come through. But Jack was still upset. Finally he asked me if I would come up on stage with him and sing background. I was astounded! I can't sing!! But Jack was adamant. He had noticed that I had fooled around singing background during the soundcheck to relieve the tension. Why not try it for real? Of course I agreed.

    IT WAS SHOWTIME. I went to the sound-guy and asked him to set up another microphone. I also asked him to keep it low and not try to "find me" in the mix. I would be singing, but I didn't want to be heard very well. If you've ever seen Jack Scott, you'll know that, while he is a dynamic performer, he doesn't move around very much on stage. So I decided to contrast that by moving a lot. By myself on a microphone, I jumped around when not required to sing and when I did sing, I cupped my hand behind my ear and looked like I was singing my heart out. In reality, most of the sound was coming from Jack and the rest of the band. We got six standing ovations.

    After the show, many people came up to me to compliment my singing. Some said that Jack had never sounded better because, for the first time they had seen him the background parts had come alive. Perception is reality. Jack and I still kid around about me being The Costones. Now that I'm living in Windsor, I often see Jack. Usually, he'll just show up in the lobby of our radio stations, unannounced. Sometimes, when he's there, a few of today's wanna-be rock stars and their record label people are hangin' out. I never introduce Jack to them. While I'm sure he'd be gracious, he's much too private a person. Besides - Been there. Done that.

    Warren Cosford
    August/1997
    (milliganstew@yahoo.com)
    Excerpted from "Almost Famous...30 years of fun in music, radio and advertising"

  • Recommended All Music Guide site on JACK SCOTT.




  • Rockabilly Hall of Fame