CLIFFORD SCOTT

Born 21 June 1928, San Antonio, Texas
Died 19 April 1993, San Antonio

Texas Tenor sax man Clifford Scott was born in San Antonio. His first professional job there was at the Keyhole Club in 1946. He was "discovered" by Lionel Hampton at age 14 and worked in Hamp's band from 1948-50. After playing with the Rhythm and Blues bands of Roy Milton and Jay McShann, he rejoined Hamp in 1953. Clifford left Hampton in 1954 to study arranging in New York. He freelanced there until joining Bill Doggett's band in late 1955, staying until 1961. It was during this period that Scott co-wrote his best-remembered hit tune, "Honky Tonk". (The following comes from John Broven's sleeve notes for the CD "Honky Tonk!" - Ace 761.) "Honky Tonk" was conceived by Clifford Scott and Billy Butler (who played guitar in Doggett's combo) in an informal hotel room jam session before a dance in Lima, Ohio. That night, on stage and without rehearsal, Butler told Bill Doggett and drummer Shep Shepherd to "just play a shuffle" and when they got through the people started to applaud. They wouldn't get off the dance floor, they just continued to stand there and appalud "more, more, more..". So they did it again, played some other tunes and had an intermission, and when they came back the audience started yelling "We wanna hear that tune!". And they didn't even have a name for it. When the band got back to New York, they set up a recording session with a studio down on 31st Street. The engineer turned the machine on, he goes out to take a smoke - he wasn't regulating the controls, he wasn't doing anything - and Doggett's band went on and just played. When they started to stop, he said "Keep it up!", which they did and that's how it became a two-sided record. "Honky Tonk", parts 1 & 2, went to # 2 on the pop charts and # 1 on the R&B charts in 1956. Writing credit goes to B. Doggett, S. Shepherd, C. Scott and B. Butler.

Scott then left for Los Angeles to work in the recording studios there. He toured with Ray Charles on and off from 1966 until 1973. He returned to San Antonio in 1976 and remained there for the rest of his career, still active as a saxophonist. He made a few (unsuccessful) jazz albums as a solo act and a recording with Wild Bill Davis in 1986 in Zurich. Clifford Scott died in 1993, aged 64.

CD: Mr. Honky Tonk Is Back In Town (New Rose, 1992).

 
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