Freddie Scott — “I’ll Be Gone”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — February 17, 2023


735) Freddie Scott — “I’ll Be Gone”

’67 A-side from the only deep soul belter from . . . Rhode Island (!) is “as close to a stomper as Freddie can get”. Heikki Suosalo, It’s a stomper, all right!

Jason Ankeny:

Best remembered for his 1966 R&B chart-topper “Are You Lonely for Me,” deep soul belter Freddie Scott was born . . . in Providence, RI. . . . [He] gravitated toward a career in medicine . . . at Paine College in Augusta, GA. There Scott joined the Swanee Quintet Juniors, a teen version of the famed gospel act . . . . He soon abandoned med school in favor of a performing career, crossing over from spiritual gospel to secular soul . . . . In late 1956 he was called up for military duty, briefly serving in Korea. . . . After completing his military stint, Scott landed with the short-lived Enrica label for 1959’s “Come On, Honey,” and when it met the same indifference that greeted his previous records he focused on songwriting, teaming with Helen Miller to compose for Al Nevins and Don Kirshner[] . . . . In 1962, fellow Aldon songwriters Gerry Goffin and Carole King approached him for assistance with “Hey Girl,” a new tune they hoped to pitch to soul singer Chuck Jackson. When Jackson proved unable to make the scheduled recording session, Scott cut the vocal instead, and when Colpix Records finally issued the ballad a year later, he entered the Top Ten on both the pop and R&B charts. A slow-burning rendition of Ray Charles’ R&B classic “I Got a Woman” followed, affirming Scott as a deep soul singer of uncommon depth . . . . Scott [relocated] to parent label Columbia, which dubbed him “the Million Dollar Baby” and recast him as a crooner . . . . The makeover fell flat, and Scott returned to a more traditional soul dynamic with the excellent Lonely Man. Record sales were virtually nonexistent [and] . . . the label let him go. Scott resurfaced in 1966 at Shout Records, the fledgling soul label founded by producer/songwriter Bert Berns– together they co-wrote “Are You Lonely for Me,” a simmering, bluesy knockout that reportedly required over 100 vocal takes prior to completion. [It] topped the R&B charts for four weeks while rising to number 39 on the pop charts.

Heikki Suosalo:

[T]ogethet with Helen Miller he] wrote for Al Nevins’ and Don Kirshner’s Aldon Music (in the company of Goffin & King, Mann & Weil, Neil Sedaka and others) providing material for Paul Anka, Ann-Margret, Gene Chandler, Bobby Darin, Tommy Hunt and Jackie Wilson. Freddie also used to sing on many demos, and tried his hand at producing . . . . In ’62 Gerry Goffin and Carole King wrote a tune called Hey Girl. “They brought the song to me – sounded like a country & western song – so I sort of changed it around. I went and did a demo on it, because they were originally gonna give it to Chuck Jackson. Something happened with Chuck – I had no idea what it was – so we came back to the studio and started working on it again. It laid on a shelf for awhile. I was more interested at that time being a writer and a producer. But I went back in and finished the record. Finally they put it out, and the rest is history.” . . . The success of Hey Girl sent Freddie from behind the writing desk onto the road . . . .

“Bert Berns and I had known each other for a long, long time. I knew him as a guitarist and a writer for the Atlantic Records. After I left the Columbia situation, he said ‘why don’t you come over here’ and I did.” . . . Bert Berns, who had become a notable writer and producer (the Drifters, Ben E. King, Solomon Burke, Garnet Mimms and others) mainly for Atlantic in the 60s, set up his Bang label in ’65 and tasted pop success with the Strangeloves, the McCoys, Neil Diamond and Van Morrison. A year later he founded a subsidiary to Bang and an outlet for soul music, Shout Records, onto where he was to gather an impressive roster . . . but first and foremost – Freddie Scott. Are You Lonely For Me, Freddie’s first Shout outing, was written by Bert . . . . It was the first and the most successful of Freddie’s nine Shout singles.

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