RIP: Jack Scott, Canada's First Rock Star
In the 41 months between June of 1958 and November of 1961, Jack Scott had 19 Records on The Billboard Charts. Eight of the 12 songs on his first LP became hit singles. Only Justin Bieber has done as well.
By Warren Cosford
On Canadian Radio in 1958, Rock and Roll came from The United States. Then a Canadian named Jack Scott did it His Way.
Jack Scott was born Giovanni Scafone Junior in Windsor, Ontario, on January 24, 1936.
For teenagers who were Rock and Roll fans, this was a revelation. We thought....you can be Canadian and write and record Rock & Roll and be heard on the radio!!
I bought a set of Slingerland Drums. Some pals at school had guitars and a saxophone. We became The Continentals.
Canadian Rock & Roll was born.
Neil Young recently said that in the ‘50s and ‘60s, Winnipeg became The Rock and Roll Capital of Canada. We know now that there were many other cities in Canada where teenagers formed bands.
Jack Scott was one of the reasons that was so.
In the 41 months between June of 1958 and November of 1961, Jack Scott had 19 records on the Billboard Charts. Eight of the 12 songs on his first LP became hit singles. Only Justin Bieber has done as well.
Unlike most hit records at the time, Jack’s new hits sounded not at all like his previous hits. Leroy was a rocker. My True Love was a ballad. Goodbye Baby was doo-wop, What in The World’s Come Over You was Country.
And while the hits just kept on comin’, Jack released an album of Spirituals and an album of Hank Williams’ songs.
In the ‘60s, with the British Invasion, many of Rock and Roll’s pioneers disappeared. Jack Scott didn’t. Berry Gordy Jr. at Motown approached him, but Jack chose Chet Atkins at RCA. Country Music in Nashville felt more compatible with Jack’s rockabilly style.
In the ‘70s, Jack appeared in England for the first time. To his surprise, the crowd requested songs he hadn’t sung in years. Later, backstage, a young man asked for a personized autograph from Jack. His name? Robert Plant.
Robert would later send an airplane to take Jack and his wife Barb to see a Led Zeppelin concert in New York. Did Jack Scott influence Robert Plant? Listen to Hot Dog on Led Zep’s final LP.
Jack Scott died from congestive heart failure on December 12th in Warren, Michigan. His final concerts were headlining Rockabilly revival shows in Las Vegas, and Hemsley England, in 2016.
He was 84 years old.
Below, Jack Scott at his induction into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2011.
— Warren Cosford has been a Production Manager Program Director and General Manager of Radio Stations in the U.S. and Canada. He was also the Production Manager of over 100 hours of Radio Documentaries including The Story of The Beatles, The Elvis Presley Story and The Evolution of Rock.