Skip to page content

Jimmy Scott

Performer

About this Artist

JIMMY SCOTT was born on July 17, 1925 in Cleveland, Ohio, where he still lives. He was one of ten siblings, all of whom sang in church to their mother's piano accompaniment. Like his brother Kenny, he never experienced puberty, the result of Kallmann's Syndrome, a hereditary hormonal deficiency that stunted his growth at 4'11" and kept his voice from developing beyond boyhood. "I fought through it," Scott says of the condition. "It didn't matter. I was accepted into show business back in the early '40s. That helped a lot, and it never bothered me like it might some others."

The singer's big break came in late 1949, when Lionel Hampton hired him on the recommendation of New Orleans pianist Paul Gayten and billed him as "Little Jimmy Scott." The ballad "Everybody's Somebody's Fool," cut at Scott's second session with Hampton, gave the singer his first and only chart hit, placing at No. 6 on Billboard's R&B jukebox chart. While performing with Hampton's band in the '50s, Scott became a colleague of Billie Holiday.

Scott's hit and three other songs recorded with the Hampton band, along with early '50s solo sides for the Coral and Brunswick labels, were reissued in 1999 on the GRP CD Everybody's Somebody's Fool. Also released in 1999 was the three-CD The Savoy Years and More containing his 1952 recordings for Roost Records and his 1955-75 output for Savoy Records. He also made a magnificent album for Ray Charles' Tangerine label and another for Atlantic during those two decades, but Savoy sued and had both suppressed.

The singer spent long periods away from the microphone. He worked for a period as a hotel shipping clerk and as a caretaker for his ailing father. Scott returned to performing in 1990, and his career took off two years later when Seymour Stein heard him singing at songwriter Doc Pomus's funeral and signed him to the Warner Bros.-distributed Sire label. Scott recorded two albums for Sire, one for Warner Bros. proper, and one for Artists Only! before joining Milestone Records.

Recent years have seen Scott making triumphant tours of Europe and Japan, as well as being the subject of a Bravo Profiles television special in which he was saluted by such admirers as Alec Baldwin, Ruth Brown, Ray Charles, Lionel Hampton, David Lynch, Joe Pesci, Lou Reed, and Frankie Valli.

Jimmy Scott's latest album is called But Beautiful. He will be 77 years old on the day of this concert.