Scott Walker (Jan. 9, 1943 – March 22, 2019) was an American singer who achieved UK pop fame during the mid-1960s as a member of the Walker Brothers. He went solo with the 1967 Philips release Scott, a mix of originals and select covers (mainly Brel/Shuman), followed by the similar Scott 2, Scott 3, and Scott 4.
Walker’s appropriation of the melodramatic European art-song tradition has influenced key figures on the British art-rock scene, including David Bowie, David Sylvian, Midge Ure, and Marc Almond.
Walker was born Noel Scott Engel on January 9, 1943, in Hamilton, Ohio, to French-Canadian Elizabeth Marie (née Fortier) and oil magnate Noel Walter Engel. During the mid-1950s, he entered theater as a child actor with roles in the Broadway musicals Pipe Dream and Plain and Fancy.
At age 14, Engel made his recording debut on the 1957 pop single “When Is a Boy a Man?” (b/w “Steady as a Rock”), issued on RKO-subsidiary Unique Records. Over the next two years, he cut multiple singles in a “teen idol” vein, including the 1958/59 Orbit sides “Blue Bell,” “Paper Doll,” “Charlie Bop,” and “Golden Rule of Love.” He made several appearances on the NBC music/comedy variety program The Eddie Fisher Show.
During his later teens, Engel embraced modern jazz, beat poetry, and European cinema. While attending art school in Los Angeles, he practiced bass and started getting session work. In 1961, he co-founded The Routers, an instrumental-rock band. Before they cut a record, he broke off and formed Judy and the Gents with guitarist John Maus, who performed as John Walker. (Maus used the Walker surname on a fake ID, intended for bar gigs.) After a brief touring stint with The Surfaris, the pair teamed with drummer Gary Leeds in the Walker Brothers.
In early 1965, Leeds’ father financed their trip to England, where Engel adopted the Walker surname and became the trio’s lead vocalist. Signed to Philips, they placed six singles on the UK Top 20 during 1965 and 1966, including “My Ship Is Coming In” (#3), “Make It Easy on Yourself,” and “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore” (both #1).
For their 1965 debut album Take It Easy with the Walker Brothers, Engel co-wrote one song (“You’re All Around Me”) with a young Lesley Duncan. On their 1966 release Portrait, he wrote “Saturday’s Child” and co-wrote “I Can See It Now” with producer Johnny Franz. By the time of their 1967 third album Images — which includes the Engel compositions “Experience,” “Orpheus,” and “Genevieve” — he was sourcing most of their material and arranging their sessions. Amid growing tensions and artistic disputes, Engel dissolved the group for a solo career as Scott Walker.
- Scott (1967)
- Scott 2 (1968)
- Scott 3 (1969)
- Scott: Scott Walker Sings Songs from his T.V. Series (1969)
- Scott 4 (1969)
- ‘Til the Band Comes In (1970)
- The Moviegoer (1972)
- Any Day Now (1973)
- Stretch (1973)
- We Had It All (1974)
- Climate of Hunter (1984)
- Tilt (1995)
- Pola X (OST, 1999)
- The Drift (2006)
- And Who Shall Go to the Ball? And What Shall Go to the Ball? (2007)
- Bish Bosch (2012)
- Soused (2014, with Sunn O))))
- The Childhood of a Leader (OST, 2016)
- Vox Lux (OST, 2018)
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