Noel Scott Engel (January 9, 1943 – March 22, 2019), better known by his stage name Scott Walker, was a British-American singer-songwriter, composer and record producer who resided in England. Walker was known for his emotive baritone voice and his unorthodox stylistic path which took him from being a sophisticated teen pop icon in the 1960s to an avant-garde musician in the 21st century. Walker’s success was largely in the United Kingdom, where his first four solo albums reached the top ten. He lived in the UK from 1965 onward and became a UK citizen in 1970. Rising to fame in the mid-1960s as frontman of the pop music trio the Walker Brothers, he began a solo career with 1967’s Scott, moving toward an increasingly challenging style on late-1960s baroque pop albums such as Scott 3 and Scott 4 (both 1969). After sales of his solo work started to decrease, he reunited with the Walker Brothers in the mid-1970s. From the mid-1980s onward, Walker revived his solo career while moving in an increasingly avant-garde direction; of this period in his career, The Guardian said “imagine Andy Williams reinventing himself as Stockhausen”. Walker’s 1960s recordings were highly regarded by the 1980s UK underground music scene, and gained a cult following.
Walker continued to record until 2018. He was described by the BBC upon his death as “one of the most enigmatic and influential figures in rock history”.
This piece on Scott Walker appeared recently in the Guardian.
Has there been a pop singer more flagrantly reticent than Scott Walker? Summon the YouTube spectre of him in his 1960s pomp and you’ll discover a performer seemingly cold-stored at his very moment in the sun. He mimes his part in the Walker Brothers’ “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine (Anymore)” (1966) as if from some debilitating distance, and seems just shy of a fastidious shudder when co-singer John Maus goes all snake-hipped for “Land of a Thousand Dances”. A couple of years later Scott pouts, solo now, through Jacques Brel’s “Jackie” in a mocked-up bordello on, of all things, The Frankie Howerd Show. The voice soars, but the boy shivers. As he sang later, in a line much quoted in this collection of essays on his darkling oeuvre: “This is how you disappear.”
The exaltation and Icarus…
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