Born Harold Raymond Scott, 26 March 1929, Bicknell, Indiana
Died 17 October 1999, Indiana

Though his heart was closer to country music than to rock n roll, Ray Scott's place in R&R history is assured as the writer of "Flyin' Saucers Rock n Roll" and the performer / composer of "Boppin' Wigwam Willie" and "You Drive Me Crazy".

Ray Scott was a somewhat reclusive character, whose musical career began around 1953, when he started writing songs. In an interview with Now Dig This (issue 143, February 1995), Scott recalled how he came to write "Flyin' Saucers Rock n Roll". Standing outside his car at a drive-in movie, Ray saw an UFO flying in 1952. "It was very high and I found out later that it was seen 300 miles to the South and 350 miles North at the same time I saw it. It was all lit up and it was shaped like a cigar. It was travelling at a speed unknown at that time - I'd been in the Navy and nobody had anything flying that fast back then. It disappeared in the East in what seemed like 30 / 40 seconds. I never reported it, but I read about it in the papers the next day." Scott wrote the song in 1956 and the next year it was recorded by Billy Riley (Sun 260). A genuine rockabilly anthem. From Indiana, Ray settled in Memphis in the mid-50s and sent several demos to Sam Phillips. One of his compositions, "Tonight Will Be the Last Night", was recorded by Warren Smith in 1956, though it was not released until the 1970s, the golden decade for rockabilly archaeology. Ray's demo of this song can be heard on "That'll Flat Git It, Vol. 17" (Bear Family BCD 16405), after lingering in the Sun vaults for 45 years.

Another well-known composition by Ray is "You're the One That Done It", Thomas Wayne's first record for Fernwood (1958), also released on Mercury. Lattie Moore recorded "100,000 Women Can't Be Wrong", which he co-wrote with Scott. So much for Ray Scott as a songwriter. In 1957, he made his first recording as a singer. Issued on Marshall Ellis's Erwin label, "Bopping Wig Wam Willie" came out in August 1957. A fine slab of rock n roll, which has been reissued on many compilations. The backing was supplied by Roland Janes (guitar), Marvin Pepper (bass), Jimmy Wilson (piano), Jimmy Van Eaton (drums) and Ray's own guitar. Probably the same session men accompanied him on the fast moving "You Drive Me Crazy" (Satellite 104), an excellent rocker, released in late 1958. Satellite was then a tiny label that would later develop into the mighty Stax Records.

Scott next appeared on another local Memphis label, Stomper Time, with his own version of the song that Warren Smith had picked up, though the title was now slightly different, "Tonite Will Be the Last Time". The flip was "Boy Meets Girl", which was also recorded by Dale Hawkins (first issued on the 1998 Ace CD "Rock 'n' Roll Tornado"). Writing credit for "Boy Meets Girl" goes to Scott on his Stomper Time single, to Hawkins on the Ace CD and to Ray Scott and Eddie Bond in the BMI database. Complicated!

A second Erwin release followed in 1960, "The Train's Done Gone", but that was more or less Ray's swansong as a rocker. He founded his own record company, RCT Records, for which he recorded country songs, but this only ran for a few years. Disillusioned, Ray retired from the entertainment business around 1971 and started running his own taxi company. Cees Klop managed to release an entire LP of Ray Scott recordings in 1986, "Mr. You Drive Me Crazy" (White Label 8913, 17 tracks). This set included several unissued Sun demos by Scott. An expanded CD version was issued in 1993 ("You Drive Me Crazy", Collector CD 4412, 24 tracks). Ray Scott died of a heart attack in 1999, aged 70.

- Terry Gordon http://rcs.law.emory.edu/rcs/artists/s/scot2800.htm
- Liner notes (by Hank Davis) for Bear Family BCD 16405.


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