Who was/is Jack Scott ? - CDs, Vinyl LPs, DVD and more
Born January 24, 1936 in Windsor - Ontario - Canada Grew up in Detroit, Michigan
Record Labels: ABC Paramount, Carlton, London, Top Rank, Guaranteed, Capitol, Groove, RCA, Jubilee, GRT, Dot, Ponie, Bear Family Records, Bluelight
First Top Ten Hit: My True Love (1958) Seine His Rockabilly classics: Leroy, Baby She's Gone, The Way I Walk, Midgie, Geraldine u.a.
Jack Scott is a Rockabilly-, Country-, and Teenage Pop singer who had some chart success in the 1950s and early 60s. His first Top-Ten hit was the ballad 'My True Love' in 1958. But today Jack Scott is more associated to his early Rockabilly recordings (1957-1960) which became classics of the genre. Country music fans like Jack Scott for his work with famous session musicians such as Buddy Emmons, Hargus 'Pig' Robbins, Floyd Cramer, Jerry Kennedy and Jerry Reed. After Jack Scott released his latest LP on RCA's subsidairy Groove in 1964, he is now back on the vinyl and CD markets after 50 years with Scott's 2015 comeback album release 'Way To Survive'.
Rock 'n' Roll and its warped cousin Rockabilly were mostly the property of the southern states in the 1950s, with nearly all the big stars coming from states within driving distance of Memphis. However, it makes sense that the city of Detroit spawned a real honest to goodness rock 'n' roll legend, Mr. Jack Scott of Hazel Park, Michigan.
While Detroit was as far north as any major American city, the population was for the most part made up of hillbillies and Black Americans who moved up from the southern states to work in the automobile industry.
From the 1930s on up to today, this diversity has made Detroit a spawning ground for many interesting musical combinations, from John Lee Hooker, Little Willie John, Hank Ballard and the Midnighters in the R&B field; Casey Clark, Lonnie Barron and the York Brothers in the country field; the entire Motown Records clan and Atlantic Records super star Aretha Franklin in the soul world; and of course a whole slew of gritty rock bands from the MC5 to Iggy & the Stooges and Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels to present chart darlings the White Stripes. Even current day rap-rock star Kid Rock is a Detroit mix of Black hip-hop and redneck country influences.
Somewhere in that mix came Jack Scott. He was a Canadian-born Italian, real name Giovanni Dominico Scafone Jr., who was raised in Windsor, Ontario, just over the border and across the bridge from Detroit. At the age of eleven Jack's family moved to Hazel Park, Michigan, a hillbilly (read: white) suburb of Detroit.
Jack's father was a musician and played guitar for the kids (Jack was the oldest of seven children), putting a guitar in Jack's hands at the tender age of eight. Jack loved country music and would strum his guitar around the house and listen to country music on the radio, dreaming big dreams about the Grand Ole Opry and Nashville.
During his teenage years, Jack worked a number of odd jobs while continuing to play guitar. He formed a local hillbilly band called the Southern Drifters (note—interesting name for a band from Michigan!) at the age of 18.
Jack was obsessed with music from an early age. He imitated Hank Williams, Webb Pierce, and many others. His aspirations from this early age were fully formed, and in fact he changed his name from Giovanni Scafone, Jr. to Jack Scott on a suggestion from local WEXL disc jockey Jack Eirie that he might be more successful with an easier to pronounce, more anglicized name.
Like many other teenagers of the mid-1950s, when Elvis came along everything changed, and Jack realized he might have some potential with the new sound of rock 'n' roll. The Southern Drifters began working Elvis songs and Bill Haley songs into their country repertoire.
It's doubtful that Jack had any idea that he would soon be at exactly the right place at the right time, a place where a good looking greasy haired Italian kid who played the guitar could be a famous rock 'n' roll musician, but that's exactly what happened.
In early 1957, the group decided one night after a dance, to rent some late night studio time, and laid down two tracks, Baby She's Gone and You Can Bet Your Bottom Dollar. Baby She's Gone was influenced heavily by Elvis' version of Money Honey, but has proved to be a classic in its own right, with Jack's original vocal delivery hinting at the style he would make his very own in the upcoming few years.
The group consisted of Jack's cousin Dominic on drums, Stan Getz on bass, and Dave Rohillier on lead guitar. Their fiddle player, Wayne 'Arkansas' Sudden came to the session, but didn't play. It's interesting to note that Stan Getz (not the famous jazz musician) would also play on the other phenomenal Detroit rockabilly masterpiece, Long Blond Hair/Rock Rock by Johnny Powers, showing what a small rock 'n' roll community Detroit had at the time.
The group took their acetate around to all the local record shops, trying to find a label that would put it out. One local record store man named Carl Thom played the dub for the local ABC-Paramount rack jobber, who then mailed the acetate to New York City for the label bigwigs to hear. Like many other labels, ABC-Paramount was keen on getting new rock 'n' roll records on the market, and leased quite a few regionally recorded tapes for release. They released Baby She's Gone b/w You Can Bet Your Bottom Dollar straight from Jack's demo tape, not bothering to do a big studio re-cut of the tracks, and released them in April 1957 as ABC-Paramount 45-9818.
The record was a small local success, but not a hit, so ABC-Paramount tried again with a second release, Two Timin' Woman b/w I Need Your Love, released as 45-9860 in November 1957. Although Two Timin' Woman was another classic rocker, this record sold even less than the first release and Jack was soon dropped from the label.
By early 1958 Jack had composed two new songs, which he felt were hit material. He recorded acetate dubs of the new songs in order to pitch them to record labels. The rocker was a blast of a number about a friend he had who was always getting into trouble. The problem was that it was called Greaseball, surely an apt title, but one which didn't fly with the record company executives, who felt Greaseball might insult the Mexican-American community. After the record company told him to change the title, Jack went into the studio bathroom and saw that someone had written "Leroy was here" on the wall, and the song title immediately was changed to Leroy.
The flip side was another ballad, entitled My True Love. Legend has it that Jack wrote it for his first girlfriend. As ballads go, it was the first fully realized number that epitomized the Jack Scott ballad style—a near dirge tempo, with simple teenage lyrics delivered by Jack in a plaintive, drawn-out drawl, a style that became a favorite of greasers, teddy boys and rockers around the globe. Jack Scott would work this ballad style for years—and check out the new companion collection to this one, entitled 'Jack Scott Ballads' for more of these slow grinders.
Although some have stated that Leroy/My True Love was issued first on the Detroit based Brill label, this author has never seen one to verify its existence. Several Detroit area record collectors vouch that there was no such release. It's possible that it may have been put out on another acetate dub record with the Brill label, which would explain the confusion.
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