Jimmy Scott, the revered jazz vocalist known for his unique vocal phrasings and diminutive stature, died Thursday at the age of 88.
While the cause of death was not immediately disclosed, his death was confirmed by his biographer David Ritz.
Scott, who began singing in the Forties, earned his first hit with 1949’s “Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool” as part of the Lionel Hampton Band (though the singer received no direct credit when the song was released). He fell out of sight throughout the next decade, but returned in 1962 to release Falling in Love is Wonderful, a landmark jazz album on Ray Charles’ Tangerine Records that Jazz Times has called the “Holy Grail of jazz vocal albums.”
His vocals influenced a generation of diverse singers, ranging from Billie Holiday and Dinah Washington to Marvin Gaye and Madonna. As the Washington Post noted, Madonna said of the vocalist, “Jimmy Scott is the only singer who makes me cry.” When Guns N’ Roses frontman Axl Rose revealed his list of favorite singers, he listed Scott alongside Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson.
In the early Nineties, Scott’s work was once again celebrated by his peers. Lou Reed brought the singer on tour after Scott contributed vocals to Reed’s 1992 album Magic and Loss. David Lynch also recruited Scott to sing the track “Sycamore Trees” for the series finale of Twin Peaks, a track written by Lynch himself.