Tag Archives: 30 Century Man

1967 ➤ Secret of how Scott Walker achieved a new adult voice as he went solo

Obituaries, tributes, interview, Scott Walker, pop music,

Scott Walker in 1970: still transitioning from pop idol to icon

ONE OF THE MOST RESPECTED singers of our age died on Friday in London aged 76: the US-born Noel Scott Engel, who became a British citizen in 1970.

I interviewed him as Scott Walker in 1967 at the very moment he was transitioning from teen idol into a more serious solo icon with his first album Scott, released in September and featuring the brilliant rendering of Brel’s angsty songs My Death and Amsterdam. For him the last straw had been to appear that April in the Walker Brothers trio on the Sunday-night TV variety show hosted by Bob Monkhouse at the London Palladium, and on viewing it Scott decided to split. Among his solo moves that December he released as his first single the risqué Jackie, from the new album Scott 2 (another Brel co-composition with louche themes that caused the BBC to ban it from airplay). As it headed up the UK pop chart, we met during rehearsals for Scott’s appearance on a TV Christmas special at ABC’s Teddington studios.

He lived in Marylebone at the time, had split from the Brothers (who were not actually blood brothers), gone into a monastery to study Gregorian chants and then set about starting an idiosyncratic solo career. He hated both the idea of being a pinup and his all too evident “pop-star” good looks. His most startling admission to me was that he was drinking “a bottle of wine and a bottle of Scotch a day” – in order to coarsen his baritone voice, he said! Scott recorded four seminal albums, Scott 1 to 4 and then disappeared.

In 1984 came Climate Of Hunter, the first of an experimental and challenging series of albums over many years, with titles such as Tilt 1995, The Drift 2006 and Bish Bosch 2012. All of them broke the rules of regular music and back in the day I listened to each album twice and remain gobsmacked today. (There’s a great video clip, shown above in the 30th Century Man trailer, of a percussionist punching a side of raw pork to achieve the exact kind of thwack Scott sought for the song Clara on The Drift.)

In recent years Scott could often be seen in my local supermarket in west London doing the shopping with his partner Beverly. Older and gaunter, he pulled his baseball cap down over his face but it was quite obvious to perhaps six other shoppers marking him that we knew who he was and as respectful fans we kept our distance. Scott is survived by his daughter, Lee, his granddaughter, Emmi-Lee, and Beverly.

BOWIE 1997: “MY IDOL SINCE I WAS A KID”

➢ Rock enigma Scott Walker dies aged 76 – BBC obituary

➢ Scott Walker, experimental pop hero – Guardian obituary by Ben Beaumont-Thomas

Obituaries, tributes, interview, Scott Walker, pop music, Jarvis Cocker

Scott Walker with Jarvis Cocker in 2017: a rich conversation about Scott’s life and times ensued (BBC)

➢ The Songs of Scott Walker – watch for this programme to become available at BBC iPlayer: Jarvis Cocker welcomes Scott Walker back to the Sunday Service ahead of the late-night BBC Prom celebrating his music, which took place at the Royal Albert Hall on Tuesday 25 July 2017. Includes the moment Walker made David Bowie cry on air.

➢ 30 Century Man (2007), directed by Stephen Kijack: Comprehensive survey of Scott’s life from his early days as a jobbing bass player on the Sunset Strip in which he describes his “lost years” in terms of creativity. Premiered at the 2006 London Film Festival followed by the 2007 Berlin International Film Festival. Available from Amazon on Blue-Ray and DVD.

➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s: The on-off brotherly rivalry that drove John and Scott Walker apart

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➤ Enigmatic Scott Walker lets loose a revealing rush of answers

Scott Walker ,Dazed & Confused,interview,30 Century Man,Culture Show,Rod Stanley

Scott Walker 2011: “Maybe one day I’ll surprise myself and actually walk out on a stage again.” Photograph © Jamie Hawksworth

Scott Walker, the former pop baritone with 60s heart-throbs The Walker Brothers who subsequently evolved into the low-key genius of underground music, proves unusually talkative in a brisk but exceptionally informative interview with Rod Stanley in October’s 20th anniversary issue of Dazed & Confused. Now aged 68, Scott finally acknowledges he is a Composer of the Absurd, and says what it would take to drag him onto a stage again. Here’s a taster…

❏ FOR THE PAST COUPLE OF DECADES, Scott Walker’s unsettling, experimental and occasionally downright disturbing music has drawn on such diverse narrative sources as Elvis Presley’s stillborn twin brother, the films of Ingmar Bergman, and the public execution of Mussolini’s lover. As viewers of the documentary 30th Century Man will recall, during the recording of his 2006 masterpiece, The Drift, his long-suffering percussionist was even made to pummel the side of a piece of pork to get just the disquieting, meaty thud that the composer could hear in his head.

D&C: Detractors of your more recent work point to the unrelenting horror and misery, but 
I argue they miss its humour. Would you agree your work always retains a fundamental sense of its own absurdity, in the best possible sense? How ‘real’ is the extreme emotional content of your work, and how much is performance?


Scott Walker: You’ve understood the work perfectly. It’s about balance. It is indeed difficult to separate the emotional from the performance, or the ‘character’ as I’d like to call it. I usually try not to rehearse or learn the vocal before attempting to sing it. I just leave it rolling round in my head. I simply want to try and catch immediacy and discover afresh what might be going on in that way.

➢ Read more at Dazed & Confused

➢ The on-off brotherly rivalry that drove John and Scott Walker apart — Shapersofthe80s on the death of John

➢ Brian eno and other fans heap respect upon Scott — Culture Show interview from 2006 (below):

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