Abbey Road To Ziggy Stardust
If you don’t know who Ken Scott is and you love the Beatles and David Bowie, you owe it to yourself to read his memoir, written with Bobby Owsinski, Abbey Road To Ziggy Stardust. Scott says his story began on April 20, 1947, the day he was born, but his life in the music industry began the day he sent an unsolicited letter to EMI studios (which would become Abbey Road studios) in London, asking for a job. Despite his inexperience, Scott landed a position in the studio's tape library and quickly worked his way up.
As you get into his story, told in a humble, no nonsense style, you realize Scott hit the lottery, career-wise. Serving as one of five engineers who recorded the Beatles offered him a full-service menu of opportunities. Along the way, the book feartures technical sidebars on gear and technique for studio savvy readers. Most refreshing, however, is to read that Scott's relationships with John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, David Bowie, Jeff Beck, Elton John and a host of other big names of the day were strictly professional. He never strays into the sensationalistic, the starry-eyed and pretentious encounters of yore with anyone. For Scott, it's all about the work and the process of recording.
Scott moved on from Abbey Road to Trident Studios and then into independence as a highly sought-after producer in the 70s, 80s and 90s. His first major hit as a producer was Bowie's The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. The album earned Scott a reputation for perfection with a proclivity for capturing very clean and precise drums sounds. This particular skill would serve him well when he worked with famed skin-bashers like Billy Cobham and Terry Bozzio. The latter’s band, Missing Persons, would take Scott into a completely different direction: artist management. It’s at this point that Scott’s career took a decidedly weird turn. After you read about the swimming pool incident at his house, you’ll know what I mean.
Perhaps one of the more captivating moments of the book is when Scott receives a call from George Harrison after 30 odd years. It was just before the guitarist’s untimely death, so the reconnection resonates with a powerful glow. Scott was hired by Harrison to go through his extensive tape library and organize it for reissue. At this point, the man known as the quiet Beatle was sick and getting weaker. Scott describes recording “My Sweet Lord 2001,” saying Harrison’s health issues had taken their toll on his voice, but he bravely soldiered on. Most poignantly, Scott says he was with Harrison at his beloved Friar Park estate on the last day the guitarist was there (Harrison lived out his final days in Los Angeles).
Abbey Road To Ziggy Stardust brings you up to speed with the producer’s recent activities, including his drum sample DVD series, EpiK DrumS. As you read through this section, you totally grasp the man’s musical history via the five drummers he brought in to help with the project: Terry Bozzio, Billy Cobham, Rod Morgenstein, Bob Siebenberg and Woody Woodmansey. Turning the final pages, you realize the debt of gratitude music fans the world over owe to guys like Ken Scott, who play a crucial role in the creation of the music millions listen to each and every day.
~ Shawn Perry