Crooners are classified as artists who vocally smooth the
rough edges of a song, sometimes jarred by the screamers and
shouters, capturing the emotions of the listeners, through
lyrical content. Freddie Scott cemented his musical foundation
in the same category as a great vocalist, who projects
emotional content through his music and performance, which
sites him as one of the greatest underrated
artist of our time.
Born on April 24, 1933 in Providence, Rhode Island, Freddie
began singing at the age of 12, in his grandmother's gospel
group, 'Sally Jones & The Gospel Keyes' while they toured
England. At 15, Scott attended Cooper High School in New York
City, then pursued a career in medicine in Augusta, Ga. as a
premed. With a change of heart, Freddie decided to give up
medicine and resume his singing career with the Swanee Quintet
Juniors. He was also a member of The Bill Johnson Band and The
Shytone 5 Orchestra.
In 1956, Scott relocated to New York where he met Zelma (Zell)
Sanders, founder of J&S Records and started there as a
songwriter. His first composition 'Turn The Lamps Down Low'
recorded by label mates Johnnie & Joe (who later gain fame
with 'Over The Mountain' on Chess Records in 1957) died a
sudden death. Sanders suggested to Freddie that he record the
song and he did. It sold over a 100,000 copies which landed
his first appearance at the Apollo Theater. Scott's career was
interrupted by his engraftment in the armed forces, where he
was stationed in Korea. While in the military, he met a fellow
musician who owned and operated the Bow/ Arrow imprints and
recorded 6 sides for the label, 'Tell Them For Me b/w 'Hold My
Hand' (on Bow) and (on Arrow) as Freddie Scott & The Chimes
'Please Call' b/w 'The Letter Came This Morning' and 'A Faded
Memory' b/w 'Loving Baby'. He teamed with The Symphonics on
the New York short lived Enrica label and released one single,
'Come On Honey' b/w 'A Blessing To You'.
As the 1960's decade arose, Freddie joined Aldon Music, (a
publishing company located in the Brill Building in New York,
founded by Al Nevens and Don Kirshner) as a songwriter and
collaborated with Helen Miller and composed tunes for such
artists like Jackie Wilson, Paul Anka, Bobby Darrin,
Ann-Margaret, and Tommy Hunt, as well as provide singing demos
for the company. He produced Erma Frankiln (older sister of
Aretha Frankiln) first LP on Epic (subsidiary of Columbia
Records) entitled 'Her Name Is Erma' in 1962. While focusing
on music, Freddie released two uncharted singles on Joy in
1961, 'Baby You're A Long Time Dead' b/w' Lost The Right' and
'When The Wind Changes' b/w 'I Gotta Stand Tall' (1961) (also
re-released in 1963).
In 1962, songwriters Carole King and Gerry Goffin brought a
song to Freddie Scott called, 'Hey Girl'. When Scott heard it,
he said it sounded like a country western song, so he
rearranged it. Originally the song was written for Chuck
Jackson but failed to show up at the studio, so Freddie and
Gerry Goffin, went into the studio and made a demo of it. It
stayed on the shelf for a year until Scott went back to the
studio and completed it. This masterpiece ballad released on
Colpix (Columbia Pictures) during the summer of 1963', hit
No.10 on Billboard's Hot R&B Singles chart, the week of
September 14, 1963, No. 10 Pop, on the Hot 100 (Sept 7, 1963).
Musical arrangements is credited to Gary Sherman and
background vocals are provided by The Cookies , who were also
signed on Colpix. An Colpix LP entitled, 'Fredie Scott Sings
And Sings And Sings' released 3 singles, a Ray Charles remake
'I Got A Woman' b/w Brand New World' (No. 48 Pop Dec 7, 1963)
and 'Where Does Love Go' b/w 'Where Have All The Flowers Gone'
(No. 82 Pop April 11, 1964) and 'If I Had A Hammer' b/w 'On
Without proper promotion and support from the company, Freddie
Scott's commercial success seemed to be at a stand still, so
he left Columbia and signed on to Bert Berns' fledging label,
Shout in 1966. Berns, a major songwriter/ producer/ musician
for Atlantic Records in the early 60's, formed his Bang label
in 1965 and enjoyed major Pop success with the McCoys ('Hang
On Sloopy) the Strangeloves ('I Want Candy') Neil Diamond
('Cherry Cherry') Van Morrison ('Brown-Eyed Girl'). Bert
launched his subsidiary imprint Shout in 1966. After 3 years
of uncharted success, Scott and Berns co-wrote a tune that
bring Freddie back to the fore front, 'Are You Lonely For Me'
(Scott is not listed as a writer on the song). Recorded in mid
1966, the song took over 100 takes until Berns was satisfied.
The dividends paid off and rewarded Freddie with his first and
only No. 1 R&B hit for 4 weeks on Billboard's Top R&B Selling
Singles, the week of February 11, 1967. The soulful
masterpiece featured background vocals provided by The Sweet
Inspirations and NY session players Gary Chester on drums,
Eric Gale on guitar and Paul Griffin on piano. The song was
cut at Manhattan's A&R Studios with legendary engineer, Phil
Ramone running the board. 'Where Were You' another heartfelt
beautiful ballad penned by Scott, was issued as the B side. A
self-titled LP 'Are You Lonely For Me' charted No. 21 R&B, the
week of April 29, 1967. Throughout Freddie's association with
Shout Records, the label released 8 charted singles including
his follow up, ('Cry To Me') (composed by Bert Berns and
originally recorded by Solomon Burke) b/w(' No One Could Ever
Love You') (No.40 R&B April 22, 1967), ('Am I Grooving You'
b/w 'Never You Mind') (No.25 R&B June 17, 1967), ('He Ain't
Give You None') (Van Morrison's classic composition recorded
with his group Them who Freddie and Bert worked with on Berns'
Bang label) b/w ('Run Joe') (a great foot stomper originally
written and recorded by the great Louis Jordan and his Tympany
Five in June 1948) (No.24 R&B December 16, 1967), ('Just Like
A Woman' b/w 'Spanish Harlem') and his 3rd masterpiece soul
shouter written by Gamble & Huff ('You Got What I Need' b/w
'Powerful Love') (No.27 R&B Oct 27, 1968) 'No One Could Ever
Love You' b/w 'Loving You Is Killing Me') and in 1971 (
'Forever My Darling' aka Pledging My Love (composed, recorded
by Johnny Ace and posthumously released after his death by his
label Duke in 1954). Freddie lifted the first lyric of the
song as the title and re-released his classic 68' cut 'You Got
What I Need' as the B side.
On December 31, 1967 Bert Berns died of a massive heart
attack. Singer/ comedienne Effie Smith (of 'Dial That
Telephone' fame, her hit of 1964 on Duo Disc) who was elected
as a promotion woman at Shout Records, passed away suddenly.
Berns' widow Eileen, would inherit the top position at the
company after her husband's death, but wasn't able to keep it
up. So singer/ songwriter George Kerr, took charge, until it
folded in 1975.
After his Shout stint fizzled, Scott joined the Elephant V
label for promotion work. He teamed up with Tommy Kaye and
produced a message album and leased it to the label.
Unfortunately, after of single releases, 'Sugar On Sunday' b/w
' Johnny's Hill' and 'I'll Be Leaving Her Tomorrow' b/w 'I
Shall Be Released' (written by Bob Dylan) issued in 1970,
things didn't work out because the label was more rock
orientated, so Freddie left and took the LP master and
released it on Probe (a subsidiary of ABC Records) entitled '
I Shall Be Released' in late 70'. The title track was reissued
as a 45, 'I Shall Be Released' b/w ' Girl I Love You' (No.40
June 27, 1970).
In 1971, Scott appeared on the Vanguard imprint and co-wrote
with Michael Gentle, 'I Guess God Wants It That Way' b/w
Please Listen. Between 1972 through 1974, Freddie released his
last two singles on P.I.P. (Pickwick International Production)
('The Great If' b/w 'Deep In The Night') and on Mainstream
('You Are So Hard To Forget') co-written with his long time
songwriting Aldon partner, Helen Miller. Years later, Freddie
maintained his lifestyle and income by appearing in two
movies, 'No Way Out' and 'Stiletto' and composing jingles.
Scott would also tour the States from 1975 through the 80's
because his music was in resurgence, with covers by artists
like Billy Joel, George Benson, Isaac Hayes, and Michael Mc
Donald. His 63' classic 'Hey Girl' was featured in the 1978
movie, ' American Hot Wax', the story of legendary radio
personality, Alan Freed.
I had the pleasure of meeting Freddie Scott twice, first at
the 2000 R&B Pioneer Awards with Northern Soul legend, Tony
Drake and at the 2006 Soul Convention in New Jersey. He was an
extremely warm nice gentleman who through our conversation at
the Pioneer Awards, told me about the release of his new CD 'A
Brand New Man' in 2001. Scott would also lend his voice on a
remake of Van Morrison's pop 67' masterpiece hit 'Brown-Eyed
Girl' on Morrison's tribute LP 'Vanthology' in 2003 and a duet
with legend Betty Harris with ('Since You Brought Your Sweet
Love') on Harris' 2007 CD entitled 'Intuition' on the Evidence
More resurgence would occur for Freddie Scott, as his 1968
Shout classic recording of ('You Got What I Need') was sampled
and parodied by rappers, Biz Markie in 1988 for his 'Just A
Friend' hit (in which he was sued for songwriting infringement
and lost), NY DJ Rob Gee and Ghostface Killah for 'Save Me
Dear' released in 2004.
In the beginning of 2007, Freddie Scott was working with an up
and coming young female protege' at his fledging FSC label in
Queens, NY where a few months later on June 4,pass away at the
age of 74.
Freddie Scott's star legacy will forever shine brightly in the
far away galaxy of a musical constellation that will leave a
celestial body of his heavenly compositions and voice tones
for fans like us to drift in a mental eargasm, as we gaze in
amazement into the midnight sky of soul.
(Chancellor of Soul)
Materials should not be used or altered without expressed
permission of the author, Mike Boone'
(Chancellor of Soul)