BENJAMIN SHERMAN "SCATMAN" CROTHERS (by Tapio Vaisanen)

Born 23rd May 1910 in Terre Haute, Indiana.
Died 26th November 1986 in Van Nuys, California.

His father was a cobbler and the proprietor of a second-hand clothing store. At the age of 14, Crothers began teaching himself to play both drums and guitar, and to sing in the scat style later made popular by Louis Armstrong and others. Still in his teens, Crothers landed a job entertaining customers at one of the local speakeasies, a place frequented by Chicago mobsters trying to lie low. He received no salary at the roadhouse, but the lavish tips made him "the richest kid in high school," Crothers recalled in a 1981 Jet article.

Scatman learned music and played drums in various jazz and novelty groups in the late 20s and 30s. In the 1930's, he played with T-Bone Walker and Louis Armstrong, and formed a big band in 1936, getting the nickname "Scatman." Sam "The Man" Taylor began working with Scat Man Crothers and the Sunset Royal Orchestra in the late '30s. Scatman moved to L. A. in 1944 and began recording. His wide repertoire then included love songs, bebop, blues, swing, scat, and old jazz.

While performing in Canton, Ohio, in 1936, Crothers met Helen Sullivan, a white woman from nearby Steubenville. He married her the following year. Their marriage remained intact for the rest of Crothers's life.

By the early 1940s, Crothers was a regular at the popular jazz clubs in Chicago, both in the Loop and on the South Side. Crothers was playing drums and singing at this point. His band, which included Oliver Michaux on piano, Jimmy Harris on alto sax, and Leroy Nabors on trumpet, was dabbling in bebop, the new jazz style being pioneered by the likes of Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker, by this time. In about 1945, Crothers decided to ditch his Midwestern band and head westward. Settling with Helen in Hollywood, he found scattered bookings in Los Angeles and San Francisco, sometimes as a solo act, other times as leader of his own small combo. He also worked occasionally as a sideman in other people's bands.

During a very slow period in 1946, Crothers took over from the brilliant but unreliable Leo Watson as drummer of Slim Gaillard's Trio in 1946 after settling in Los Angeles. Made a bunch of records starting in 1947, in 1948 Crothers was introduced to Phil Harris, a radio star and regular on Jack Benny's program. He and Harris--like Crothers a native of Indiana--immediately hit it off. Together Crothers and Harris recorded a song called "Chattanooga Shoeshine Boy," which they introduced on Harris's NBC radio show The Phil Harris--Alice Faye Show. Crothers recorded two more hits later that year: "On the Sunny Side of the Street" and "Dead Man's Blues." He became a regular guest on Harris's show, and the pair continued to collaborate on records and in films for years to come.

Crothers became first black performer to host a TV Program in Los Angeles in 1948. Made movie debut in 1951, and became a character actor with numerous roles in films throughout 1950s to mid 1980s and - due to his rich, gravelly voice - voice-overs in animation series such as "The Aristokats", "Harlem Globetrotters" and "Hong Kong Phooey".

In spite of these accomplishments, however, genuine stardom continued to elude Crothers. As the 1950s continued, quality work became scarce. He landed bit parts in a couple of 20th Century Fox movies: Between Heaven and Hell, starring Robert Wagner, in 1956, and The Gift of Love in 1958. He performed with a trio at military installations as part of the USO. He continued to work at nightclubs throughout the decade, and remained in demand for television variety shows. As the 1960s began, film roles remained few and far between. He had a small part in the 1960 Warner Brothers feature The Sins of Rachel Cade, and another in the Olivia de Havilland vehicle Lady in a Cage in 1964. The same year, he was cast as a shoeshine boy in The Patsy, which starred Jerry Lewis. While working on that picture, Crothers and Lewis became close friends, leading to parts for Crothers in two other mid-1960s Lewis films, The Family Jewels and Three on a Couch.

It was in the 1970s that Crothers finally broke through as a fixture in the big leagues of the entertainment industry. In 1970 Crothers played the voice of Scat Cat in the animated Walt Disney feature The Aristocats. That work led to further cartoon voice work,

To anybody who watched much television in the 1970s and early 1980s, very few faces or voices were more familiar than those of Scatman Crothers. Crothers is best remembered for his portrayal of Louie the Garbage Man on the NBC series Chico and the Man, but through his constant appearances on television talk shows (Johnny Carson show 18 times), dramas and sitcoms, and in such movies as One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and The Shining, Crothers became one of the period's most visible cultural icons. He achieved this fame after toiling in near-anonymity for more than 50 years. During that time, he performed as a drummer, guitar- /banjo-/ukeleleist, singer, songwriter, and actor in entertainment settings ranging from prohibition-era speakeasies to high-tech 1980s movie studios

He had his own LPs released on Tops, Craftsman, Dooto, Motown and, posthumously, on Scimitar. His last recording session that I can track down was one song recorded in 1978. His last movie was a voice- only part in The Transformers (1986) shortly before his death in Van Nuys, California,on 26th November 1986.

Recommended reading (not much of his music career though): Scatman: An authorized biography of Scatman Crothers Jim Haskins with Helen Crothers New York : W. Morrow and Co., 1991 (ISBN # 0-688-08521-0)

Here's a nice web bio. http://www.africanpubs.com/Apps/bios/0513CrothersScatman.asp

This is an incomplete Scatman Crothers discography, so all additions are more than welcome. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 45s/78s ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Slim Gaillard Trio appeared in several soundies filmed at Billy Bergs night club in Los Angeles circa 1946, with Scatman Crothers and Bam Brown; among these are "Ovoutie O'Rooney" which contains Flat Foot Floogie Cement Mixer Dunkin Bagel

Recordings with Slim Gaillard Trio/Quartette, Scatman Crothers is the drummer ATOMIC 250 46 I Don't Know Why Jam Man Matzoh Bals 46 Ya Ha Ha

Scatman Crothers with Riff Charles and Friends featuring Vic Dickenson: CAPITOL 15076 48 The Thing Dead Man's Blues CAPITOL 15220 48 Riff's Blues Mabel The Lush CAPITOL 15383 49 I'd Rather Be A Hummingbird Pretty Little Blue Eyed Sally CAPITOL 15431 49 Do Something Have You Got The Gumption CAPITOL 5770062 ?? Just Lookin' I'm The Only Man ORCHID 1 ?? Unemployment Blues (Scatman Crothers) My Baby (Joe Bauer) ORCHID ? as by "SKATMAN" CROTHERS ?? Shuffleboard Blues ? RCA 47-3216 50 Phil Harris w/Scatman Crothers Chattanooga Shoeshine Boy That's A Plenty RCA 47-3692 50 Phil Harris w/Scatman Crothers Chattanooga Shoeshine Boy That's A Plenty

ALADDIN 3079 51 Beale Street On A Saturday Night - Scatman is uncredited second vocalist on Calvin Boze's recording, which he also co-wrote. RECORDED IN HOLLYWOOD 142 51 Papa (I Don't Treat That Little Girl Mean) (answer to "Mama He Treats Your Daughter Mean") flip is by Red Callender. RECORDED IN HOLLYWOOD 152 51 Man, Have I Got Troubles Elaine RECORDED IN HOLLYWOOD 171 52 w/Red Callendar Six I Love Your Mama Better I'd Rather Stay In The House RECORDED IN HOLLYWOOD 401 53 Waiting For My Baby Easy Money DECCA 28895 53 Honeysuckle Rose Walkin' My Baby Back Home DECCA 29097 54 On The Sunny Side Of The Street A Smile Will Go A Long, Long Way HOT ROD 45X-1002 5? Joe Darensbourg and his "Flat Out" with Scat Man Crothers Saturday Night Drag Race - Part 1 Saturday Night Drag Race - Part 2 CENTURY 710 w/the Mellow Men 55 Keep That Coffee Hot Dearest One CENTURY 712 55 When Oh When Pork 'N' Beans M-G-M 12199 56 Waitin' For My Baby (Savoy Blues) Sweet Lips (Jazz Lips) INTRO 6016 (SCATMAN CROTHERS & RED CALLENDER) Free Samples A-Gruntin' And A-Groanin' INTRO 6017 (SCATMAN CROTHERS & RED CALLENDER) Just Like Two Drops Of Water King Behman's Stomp CHALLENGE 59028 58 Take Your Time Rock, Roma, Rock It SPOT 101 59 Riders In the Sky I Got Rhythm SPOT 102 59 I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter Exactly Like You CHALLENGE 59065 60 Planet Fazoo Good Times Will Come DOOTO 818 ?? Comedy Sweepstakes vol. 1 - spoken DOOTO 81? ?? Comedy Sweepstakes vol. 2 - spoken

HANNA-BARBERA RECORDS HBR 476 66 What's a Nice Kid Like You Doing in a Place Like This Golly Zonk ! VISTA 480 70 I'm the Scatman Man Everybody Wants To Be a Cat LONDON 17008 (U.K. 78 rpm) ?? Television Blues I'd Rather Be A Rooster LONDON 30081 (U.K. 45 rpm) ?? Television Blues I'd Rather Be A Rooster SCARAB 1002 ?? Killer Joe Make Up Your Mind ? (45 with PS) There's Enough For.. ?

The Belgium label Hit Tune released the following 45's in 1958. 5030 The gal looks good I'm gonna sit right down and write myself a letter 5031 Ghostriders in the sky The best things in life are free 5032 Schooldays Exactly like you - does anyone know the original issue of Schooldays?

---------------------------------------------------------------------- Various artists EPs 45rpm/78rpm ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Hollywood EP 286 56 Transfusion TOPS EP 280 56 Rock Island Line TOPS EP 285 56 I'm in love again/My Blue Heaven Tops EP 286 56 Transfusion (also My Blue Heaven?) Tops EP 289 56 Be-Bop-A-Lula Tops EP 290 56 Hound Dog Tops EP 292 57 The Fool Tops EP 294 57 Blueberry Hill Tops EP 299 57 Since I Met You Baby Tops EP 304 57 I'm Walkin' Tops EP 308 57 I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter Gilmar EP 202 57 Blueberry Hill

- Tops 304 and 308 were also issued as 404 and 408

-------------------------------------------------------- LPs --------------------------------------------------------

-------------------------------------------------------- Rock N Roll With Scatman (TOPS L1511) -------------------------------------------------------- Side one Ghost Riders In The Sky Exactly Like You September Song Nobody Knows Why St. James Infirmary My Blue Heaven

Side two I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter I Got Rhythm The Best Things In Life Are Free The Gal Looks Good Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone Baby Won't You Please Come Home

-------------------------------------------------------- Comedy Sweepstakes (DOOTO 814) -------------------------------------------------------- - comedy LP, spoken

-------------------------------------------------------- Gone Gone Gone with "Scat Man" Crothers (Craftsmen 8036) -------------------------------------------------------- Side one Ghost Riders In The Sky Exactly Like You September Song Nobody Knows Why

Side two I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter Baby Won't You Please Come Home The Best Things In Life Are Free The Gal Looks Good

-------------------------------------------------------- 4 A.M.(20th Century Fox - Fox 1009) -------------------------------------------------------- (SIDE ONE) "KING PORTER STOMP" "SAVOY BLUES" "WOODCHOPPERS BALL" "MONDAY DATE" "CORNET CHOP SUEY" "UNDECIDED"

(SIDE TWO) "NEW ORLEANS POST PARADE" "NOCTURNE FOR THE BLUES (HARLEM NOCTURNE)" "WRAPPIN' IT UP" "YANCEY SPECIAL" "SWEET LIPS" "COPENHAGEN"

-------------------------------------------------------- Big Ben Sings (Motown LP M-777L), 73 -------------------------------------------------------- (SIDE ONE) I'm The Melody Man Elaine Elaine I Found Someone God Bless The Child Nobody Knows Why Dean Man's Blues Waiting For My Baby

(SIDE TWO) How Long How Long Blues Kansas City Tell Me How Long The Train's Been Gone Wondering (It Will Have to Do) Until The Real Thing Comes Along Hey Lawdy Mama

-------------------------------------------------------- Rock N Roll With Scatman (TOPS L1511) bootleg repro -------------------------------------------------------- - same track listing as original LP

---------------------------------------------------------------------- Compilations ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Music for a MAD BALL (Tops L1610) LEE RAYMOND orchestra with THE TOPPERS - Soundtrack of Columbia Picture - "Operation Mad Ball" starring Mickey Rooney, Kathryn Grant, Ernie Kovacs, Jack Lemmon 1. Teen Age Crush - ? Dave Burgess?? 2. Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On - Dave Burgess 3. Since I Met You Baby - Scat Man Crothers 4. Butterfly - Dave Burgess 5. Teenager's Romance - Dave Burgess 6. Why Baby Why - Neil Hunt 7. Send For Me - Jerry Case 8. Party Doll - Dave Burgess 9. I'm Walkin' - Scat Man Crothers 10. Rock-A-Billy - Neil Hunt 11. A White Sport Coat (And A Pink Carnation) - Dave Burgess 12. Don't Forbid Me - Bobby Milano

Scat Man Crothers & Joe Williams (Grand Prix K-419) - 1 side Scat Man (Ghost Riders In The Sky, Exactly Like You, Nobody Knows Why, I'm Gonna Sit Right Down, Best Things In Life Are Free), - 2 side Joe Williams (Gal Looks Good, St. James Infirmary Blues, Round the Clock Blues part 1 & 2)

Alice in Wonderland or What's a Nice Kid Like You Doing in a Place Like This? Television Cast (LP) (Hanna-Barbera Records HBR 2051), 1966 - Scatman Crothers: "What's a Nice Kid Like You Doing in a Place Like This", Sammy Davis Jr. did the song in the movie, Scatman re-recorded it for soundtrack

The Aristocats (1970) - Scatman Crothers sings "Ev'rybody Wants To Be A Cat" as Scat Cat in the movie, but was he on soundtrack LP?

Dora Hall: Rose on Broadway (Cozy PL 9206) Introduction (instrumental); Rose of Washington Square (Dora Hall); Harrigan (Dora Hall); 45 Minutes From Broadway (Dora Hall); Give My Regards to Broadway (Dora Hall); Bows (instrumental); Ida! Sweet as Apple Cider (Donald O'Connor); Broadway Baby (Dora Hall); I'm Gonna Quit Saturday (Scatman Crothers); Walkin' My Baby Back Home (Frank Sinatra Jr.); Everybody Wants a Key to My Cellar (Scatman Crothers); Broadway Rose (everybody?).

SLIM GAILLARD: Cement Mixer put-ti put-ti (Folklyric 9038) - Jam Man

SLIM GAILLARD: LAUGHING in RHYTHM volume 1 (OFFICIAL 3050) - I Don't Know Why

"Snooky & Marshall's Album" (Concord Jazz LP CJ55), 1978 Scatman Crothers: Mean Dog Blues

California Jump Blues (ACE CH71) Scatman Crothers: "I Want To Rock'n'Roll"

---------------------------------------------------------------------- CDs ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Scatman Crothers / Oh Yeah! (Simitar 5647), 1998 digital remaster 1. Exactly Like You 2. I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter 3. Ghost Riders In The Sky 4. September Song 5. The Gal Looks Good 6. Baby Won't You Please Come Home 7. My Blue Heaven 8. Nobody Knows Why 9. St. James Infirmary 10. The Best Things In Life Are Free 11. I Got Rhythm 12. Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone 13. Blueberry Hill 14. I'm In Love Again

Recorded at Radio Recorders, Hollywood, California on May 21-28, 1956 Scatman Crothers (vocals) Babe Russin (tenor saxophone) Paul Smith (piano) Larry Breen (bass) Jack Sperling, Milt Holland (drums)

---------------------------------------------------------------------- Compilation CDs (or other artists feat. Scatman) ---------------------------------------------------------------------- First four Capitol sides were reissued on "Classic Capitol Jazz Sessions", 12 CDs, (Mosaic 170)

Slim Gaillard: 1945 (Classics 864) w/ Howard McGhee, Scatman Crothers, Leo Watson, Bam Brown, Zutty Singleton, Marshall Royal, Lucky Thompson, Dodo Marmorosa

Slim Gaillard: The Legendary McVouty; Hep CD 6 (15 Tracks 1945-46) w/Slam Stewart, Harry "The Hipster" Gibson, Leo Watson & Scatman Crothers - including Ya Ha Ha/Matzoh Balls

"Rock Before Elvis ..." Hoy Hoy double CD - Scatman Crothers: "I Want To Rock'n'Roll"

"More Hollywood Rock And Roll" (ACE) - Scatman Crothers: "Rock Mama Rock It"

At His Best, Phil Harris (?) - contains "Chattanoogie Shoe-Shine Boy"/"That's A Plenty"

Cab Calloway & Scatman Crothers / Kings of the Cotton Club (Laserlight 15 378), 1991 Cab Calloway: 1.You've Got Your Troubles 2.If I Were a Rich Man 3.I Will Wait for You 4.Sway 5.You're Nobody 'Til Somebody Loves You 6.Mame 7.Hello, Dolly! 8.Sunshine 9.September Song 10.Cabaret Scatman Crothers: 11.I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter 12.I Got Rhythm 13.Baby Won't You Please Come Home 14.The Best Things in Life are Free 15.The Gal Looks Good 16.Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone

---------------------------------------------------------------------- Music videos ---------------------------------------------------------------------- America's Music: Jazz, vol. 2 - no track details

That's all I know about his recordings, here's some interesting information

MODERN 674 49 Rock And Roll (Wild Bill Moore)

http://www.hoyhoy.com/wildbill.htm ROCK AND ROLL -Modern records was an R&B label founded in 1945 and run by Jules Bihari in Los Angeles. When Ace Records of London bought the Modern Records catalogue in 1983, they spent some time in the studio with Bihari. In a vault was an old acetate master, with the words "I Want To Rock And Roll," scrawled on it, but no artist named. When they put in on the turntable, Bihari said, "That's Scatman Crothers singing, but we never issued it." Well, Bihari's memory was fuzzy, because the record had indeed been issued, in 1949 as Modern 674, and issued as "Rock And Roll" by Wild Bill Moore. Discographies agree that Crothers was indeed working at Modern at the time, so a good guess is that Crothers may have been singing in front of Moore's band for this session, although his name does not appear on the record. On the other hand, this may not be Scatman Crothers at all. Anybody with information, please notify us.

 
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