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Scott Walker dead: Rock influencer dies at 76

Scott Walker (Scott Engel) sitting on a 1960s chair during his solo era.
Scott Walker (Scott Engel) sitting on a 1960s chair during his solo era. RB/Redferns

Scott Walker, former Walker Brothers frontman, died Monday. He was 76.

The musician was best known as the lead singer, bassist, keyboard player and primary songwriter of the highly successful American pop group. The Walker Brothers released six studio albums within their nine years of collective work, including 1975’s No Regrets and Nite Flights (1978).

The trio scored a number of hits in both the U.S. and U.K. including Make it Easy on Yourself (1965) and The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore (1966).

After finding major success with the Walker Brothers, he began his own solo career before becoming a producer and composer.

Walker’s death was revealed by his record label, 4AD on Monday morning. The company issued an official statement confirming his unfortunate passing. The cause of death, however, was left undisclosed.

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4AD called him “a brilliant lyricist with a haunting singing voice,” including that he was “one of the most revered innovators at the sharp end of creative music, whose influence on many artists has been freely acknowledged.”

Scott Walker of the Walker Brothers performing on stage wearing sunglasses.
Scott Walker of the Walker Brothers performing on stage wearing sunglasses. David Redfern/Redferns

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A number of artists, close friends and fans took to Twitter to express their sorrow and share memories of Walker, including Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke — who revealed the late singer was one of his biggest influences.

“So very sad to hear that Scott Walker has passed away,” wrote Yorke, 50. “He was a huge influence on Radiohead and myself, showing me how I could use my voice and words. He will be very missed.”

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Walker was also the idol of the late David Bowie.

Following Walker’s death, an old tape surfaced online and has gone viral. It features a birthday message the singer had recorded for Bowie. It was played to Bowie during a radio interview.

“Hi David, this is Scott Walker,” said Walker in the recording. “I’m coming to you via a very crappy handheld tape machine, so I hope it’s alright.

“I’m certain that among the many messages, there will be those about how you embrace the new, and how you’ve freed so many artists — and this is of course true. Like everyone else, I’d like to thank you for all the years and especially your generosity of spirit when it comes to other artists. I’ve been the beneficiary on more than one occasion, let me tell you.

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“So have a wonderful birthday,” he concluded. “By the way, mine’s the day after yours; so I’ll have a drink to you on the other side of midnight.”

Bowie can be heard crying after the message ends. “That’s amazing,” he said. “I see God in the window. [Laughs] He really got to me there I’m afraid.

“I think he’s probably been my idol since I was a kid,” the singer admitted.

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“That’s very moving. I want a copy of that,” he continued. “I’m absolutely… that’s really thrown me. Thank you very much.”

Photo of Walker Brothers.
Photo of Walker Brothers. Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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Many of Walker’s solo albums were simply titled Scott, and then numbered chronologically. His first three, Scott, Scott 2 and Scott 3 reached the top ten positions in the U.K. respectively.

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Since 1967, Walker released 16 albums, including 2014’s Soused — which was released in collaboration with American experimental metal band Sunn O))) — it was his final studio album.

Towards the end of his life, Walker continued to dabble in producing and even composed a couple of albums. Most recently, he composed the soundtrack to 2018’s Vox Lux film.

Scott Walker in London on Nov. 11, 1970.
Scott Walker in London on Nov. 11, 1970. Michael Putland/Getty Images

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Born Noel Scott Engel, on Jan. 9, 1943, Walker was raised in Hamilton, Ohio. His musical career kicked off in 1958 starting with a number of TV appearances. He quickly became a teen idol.

He moved to the U.K. in 1965 after joining the Walker Brothers. Walker became a citizen in 1970 and spent the remainder of his life living there with his family.

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Walker is survived by his daughter, Lee, granddaughter, Emmi-Lee, and longtime partner, Beverly.

adam.wallis@globalnews.ca
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