Piano Bar Legend Jerry Scott Passes Away at 67
Jerry Scott, the extraordinary Manhattan entertainer whose stellar renditions of every genre of music from show tunes to standards to pop to operetta to ragtime, fired up audiences for over 40 years in Manhattan, died peacefully at 1:00 a.m. on April 4 at Calvary Hospital in the Bronx after a valiant struggle with cancer. He was 67 years old and lived on the upper east side of Manhattan.
A nightlife mainstay on the Manhattan scene, Jerry Scott was one of the town's most beloved and popular singer/pianists. On any given night, his repertory might range from versatile interpretations of Cole Porter, Irving Berlin or Gershwin to tearing down the rafters with a raucous sing-along in an over packed, noisy room. He had a repertoire of more than 2500 songs.
Jerry Scott had a following that numbered in the thousands. Many from out of town built their vacations or visits to New York around his schedule. The list of nightspots he performed at in Manhattan is hard to count and goes back to the 1970s where he began at The Candy Store working alongside Huston Alred and Steve Ross. They also include: The Regency Hotel, Nickel's Steak House, The Painted Pony, East Five Three, Waverly/Waverly, Oh Johnny!, Tatou, Rappsody, Rosemarie's, Ruby Fruit, One Potato, Nino's Tuscany, Catarina's, Butler's, Danny's and Parnell's to name a handful. Jerry also worked at Harrah's Marina in Atlantic City as well as many ports in Europe, the Caribbean and Russia. After performing at a fund raiser for Hillary Clinton, he was invited to perform for President Clinton two weeks later.
Jerry was honored by the Manhattan Association of Cabarets & Clubs (MAC) 12 times for his excellence in piano bars and rooms. He also received a Bistro Award from Back Stage, a Critic's Choice Award and was twice named entertainer of the year for excellence in piano bar performing by various outlets. His free-spirited, grandiose piano runs had him compared to many greats including Liberace and Peter Allen. He also had a fondness for stride and jazz piano and had a great time when he was able to let loose and swing. His between-song banter was always entertaining and filled with fun. He welcomed everyone like a best friend. And, he was exceptionally gracious to the many visiting singers who wanted to step up to the mic.
Among mainstays in his most requested repertoire were: You've Got A Friend, Always, I'll Catch The Sun, Rhythm Of Life, Neapolitan Song Medley, Nessun Dorma, Could It Be Magic, Mack & Mabel Medley, All That Jazz and Ring Them Bells. His powerful, eclectic style enabled him to comfortably turn any piano or keyboard into a grand orchestra or melt it to a whisper on the quietest ballad. He once said, "...I love to make people happy -- that's my job...I play the music as I hear it in my head."
While focusing on Manhattan in New York, Jerry also played around the country as a guest artist early in his career including stints in Texas. Originally from Pennsylvania near Altoona, Jerry also played for local church choirs and was adept at the organ as well. He was the very first to say yes to any benefit that asked. And, he was particularly active with Hearts & Voices at the height of the AIDS crisis.
At this time, funeral and memorial arrangements are incomplete and an invitation only tribute will be announced in New York. Jerry was one of 9 children and also leaves a large family of nieces and nephews who adored him. He will be sorely missed by countless heartbroken friends, loved ones and fans near and far.