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Rest in Peace, Innovative Singer/Songwriter/Composer Scott Walker: 1943-2019

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On Monday morning, the music community woke up to the sad news that innovative musician Scott Walker passed away over the weekend at the age of 76.

Walker’s record label, 4AD, issued a lengthy statement confirming the news and paying warm tribute to Walker’s life, career and influence:

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Scott Walker. Scott was 76 years old and is survived by his daughter, Lee, his granddaughter, Emmi-Lee, and his partner Beverly.

For half a century, the genius of the man born Noel Scott Engel has enriched the lives of thousands, first as one third of The Walker Brothers, and later as a solo artist, producer and composer of uncompromising originality.

Scott Walker has been a unique and challenging titan at the forefront of British music: audacious and questioning, he has produced works that dare to explore human vulnerability and the godless darkness encircling it.

Noel Scott Engel was born in 1943, the son of an Ohio geologist. He began his career as a session bassist, changing his name when he joined The Walker Brothers. The 1960s trio enjoyed a meteoric rise, especially in Britain, where hits like ‘The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore’ attracted a following to rival that of The Beatles.

But the superstar lifestyle and fame was not for Scott. As an only child, he had grown up in the kind of rich, slow solitude in which imagination could flourish, and he retreated from the limelight, returning as a solo artist to release a string of critically acclaimed albums, Scott, Scott 2, Scott 3 and Scott 4. He disappeared until the late 1970’s, when The Walker Brothers re-joined for their last album together and then a solo album in the 80’s.

Another long silence and Scott then re-emerged in the 90’s and onwards with lyric-driven works that deconstructed music into elemental soundscapes. Drawing on politics, war, plague, torture, and industrial harshness, Scott’s apocalyptic epics used silence as well as real-world effects and pared-back vocals to articulate the void. Sometimes gothic and eerie, often sweepingly cinematic, always strikingly visual, his works reached for the inexpressible, emerging from space as yearnings in texture and dissonance.

From teen idol to cultural icon, Scott leaves to future generations a legacy of extraordinary music; a brilliant lyricist with a haunting singing voice, he has been one of the most revered innovators at the sharp end of creative music, whose influence on many artists has been freely acknowledged. The scope and dynamism of his vision have added dimension to both film and dance, and he has stunned audiences with music whose composition transcends genre, and whose sheer originality defies pigeonholing.

In her foreword to Sundog, the 2017 volume of Scott’s lyrics, novelist Eimear McBride had this to say of the musician’s remarkable contribution:

“Walker’s work, as Joyce’s before it, is a complex synaesthesia of thought, feeling, the doings of the physical world and the weight of foreign objects slowly ground together down into diamond. It is Pinter-esque in its menace but never shies from naked emotion… This is work that does not speak of danger, it feels like it.”

In 2017, the BBC paid tribute to Scott with a Proms concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall.

We are honoured to have worked with Scott for the last 15 years of his life.

News of Scott Walker’s passing brought out an abundance of warm remembrances from his musical colleagues:

May Walker rest in peace.

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