Raymond Scott Timeline
compiled by Irwin Chusid & Jeff E. Winner
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1908 – Born Harry Warnow, September 10, Brooklyn, NY, to Sara and Joseph Warnow. (Brother Mark born eight years earlier.)
1924 – First reported professional job as pianist. Claims to have composed his first tune, “Portrait of a Cow” (no work extant).
1927 – Graduates from Brooklyn Technical High School.
1931 – Graduates from New York’s Institute of Musical Art (now Juilliard).
1934 – Hired as staff pianist for CBS Radio orchestra (conducted by his brother Mark). Forms CBS band, the Instrumentalists, who perform Harry’s original compositions on radio. To shield identity as conductor’s younger brother, picks name “Raymond Scott” out of Manhattan phone book. Composes “Christmas Night in Harlem” (lyrics by Mitchell Parish), his first hit.
1936 – Regularly performs on and often leads the ensemble on CBS radio’s Saturday Night Swing Club. Forms first Raymond Scott Quintette (actually a sextet), consisting of himself (piano), Bunny Berigan (trumpet), Dave Harris (sax), Peter Pumiglio (clarinet), Lou Shoobe (bass), and Johnny Williams (drums). Berigan, disgusted at endless rehearsing, quits before the band records, is replaced by Dave Wade. RSQ’s December ’36 radio performance of “Twilight in Turkey” on SNSC makes band an overnight sensation (“the number that first brought them their fame” – Down Beat magazine, July 1937).
1937 – Scott (with Quintette) signs contract with Irving Mills (Duke Ellington’s manager) to produce recordings of Scott titles for Master label (owned by Mills). On Feb. 20, first RSQ studio date results in commercial versions of “Powerhouse,” “The Toy Trumpet,” “Minuet in Jazz,” and “Twilight in Turkey.” RSQ continues to perform on Saturday Night Swing Club. Scott signs contract with 20th Century Fox, moves to Hollywood with Quintette, performs (and appears) in several films. Master label goes bankrupt, Scott Quintette recordings are acquired by American Record Company (ARC) and reissued on Brunswick label (in 1938). Scott writes controversial article for Billboard magazine (Nov. 27 issue), “Swing is ‘Stagnant’ Syncopation,” which sparks reputation as a maverick musical philosopher.
1938 – RSQ performs “The Toy Trumpet” (but does not appear onscreen) in Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, starring Shirley Temple and Bill “Bojangles” Robinson. After Quintette players are asked to don powdered wigs for performance of “Minuet in Jazz” in film Sally, Irene, and Mary, Scott walks off the set, grumbling: “We are musicians, not comedians.” Leaves Hollywood and returns to New York with Quintette, declaring his disdain for the film capital (“They think everything is wonderful.”). Named Music Director for CBS Radio. Article in the New Yorker says Scott “has won such distinguished admirers as Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, [Jascha] Heifetz, and [Igor] Stravinsky.”
1939 – Signs recording contract with Columbia Records in January to make new RSQ recordings. In summer, after a spate of Quintette sessions, disbands RSQ, forms large dance orchestra. In November, signs new Columbia agreement for Raymond Scott & His Orchestra. RSO records for label in 1939 and 1940.
1940 – Takes orchestra on tour (to finance his expanding electronics ventures, he says). Composes music for American Ballet Theatre. Forms CBS radio band, the Novelteers. First performs “Silent Music” (a work consisting of no notes).
1941 – Scott’s orchestra and various satellite configurations perform on CBS radio. Forms another radio house band, the Captivators. George Pal animated “Puppetoon” titled Rhythm in the Ranks features Scott’s “Toy Trumpet” in soundtrack.
1942 – Breaks color barrier by forming the first racially-mixed network radio orchestra (including Ben Webster, Emmett Berry, Charlie Shavers, Cozy Cole). Forms first Raymond Scott & the Secret Seven band. Sells Circle Music publishing to Warner Bros. Dorothy Collins, age 15, makes singing debut with Scott’s orchestra.
1943 – Warner Bros. music director Carl Stalling first adapts a Scott composition in a WB cartoon. For the next 20 years, Scott’s melodies will be “quoted” about 140 times in around 120 WB cartoons starring Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Road Runner, and others. Forms CBS network band, the Sophisticators. Scott’s orchestra backs young singing sensation Frank Sinatra on network show Broadway Bandbox; the pairing ends when Scott objects to his orchestra providing backing music for a popular singer.
1944 – Hosts and conducts CBS radio program, The Raymond Scott Show. US State Dept.’s Office of War Information (OWI) selects Scott’s orchestra to “inaugurate a new daily program of popular music [to be] broadcast by shortwave … throughout the world” to American military personnel serving overseas.
1945 – Studies traditional Chinese music in preparation for projected Broadway musical, Lute Song (lyrics to be written by Bernard Hanighen). Scott orchestra tours with new line-up. His composition “Singing Down the Road” is used in the film Bells of Rosarita (starring Roy Rogers & Dale Evans). Composes music for Broadway show, Beggars are Coming to Town, which runs at the Coronet Theater on West 49th Street.
1946 – Lute Song opens on Broadway, starring Yul Brynner and Mary Martin; show introduces one of Scott’s most-recorded titles, “Mountain High, Valley Low.” Scott establishes electronic music corporation, Manhattan Research, Inc. Files US Patent disclosures for electro-mechanical inventions, the “Orchestra Machine” and the “Talking Alarm Clock.”
1947 – Forms new band and tours.
1948 – Invents electro-mechanical sound effects generator, which he names “Karloff.” Forms a new Raymond Scott Quintet (different spelling of ’37-’39 RSQ, different musicians, and largely a new repertoire). RSQ (with singer Dorothy Collins) is hired as house band on CBS network radio show Herb Shriner Time. Establishes record label, Master Records (no relation to 1937 Irving Mills label).
1949 – Records six sides for his Master label; tells reporter he intends to personally interview each potential customer to determine if they can appreciate “the Scott sound.” Composes themes for Hollywood film, Not Wanted. Brother Mark Warnow, conductor on CBS radio’s Your Hit Parade, dies of heart failure at age 49. Raymond is hired to replace Mark on the show.
1950 – Lucky Strike’s Your Hit Parade leaves CBS radio and leaps to NBC TV, with Scott retained as conductor. His protégé singer Dorothy Collins is hired as one of the show’s featured vocalists. Program regularly features Scott’s original cigarette jingle, “Be Happy Go Lucky” (often sung by Dorothy). YHP pioneers the TV use of prerecorded accompaniment with live vocal performances. Scott’s Suite for Violin and Piano, his only “serious” work, is premiered at Carnegie Hall on February 7, performed by Arnold Eidus (v) and Carlo Bussotti (p). Hollywood film, The West Point Story (with James Cagney and Doris Day) features Scott’s “Toy Trumpet” in a tap dance scene. Composes score for Michael Todd’s Peep Show, which runs at the Wintergarden Theater, NYC, for 278 performances (thru 1951). US Patent disclosure for “Automatic Scanning Radio” invention. Raymond and Pearl are divorced.
1951 – Continues conducting orchestra on Your Hit Parade. Establishes commercial music company, the Jingle Workshop.
1952 – Marries singer (and Your Hit Parade co-star) Dorothy Collins (two daughters, Deborah and Elizabeth). Begins to develop electronic music device, the Clavivox, intended as a keyboard theremin for his daughter Carolyn. (It eventually evolves into something far more sophisticated and versatile—one of the first synthesizers.) Builds two of the world’s first multi-track tape recorders (7 and 14 tracks respectively).
1953 – Invents electro-mechanical musical “sequencer.” Establishes soundtrack company, Raymond Scott Enterprises, Inc. Granted US Patent #2783311 for “Magnetic Recording Head Mounting Apparatus.” Continues conducting orchestra on Your Hit Parade.
1954 – Establishes Audivox record label to release his own recordings. Continues conducting orchestra on Your Hit Parade.
1955 – Scott’s tune “Flagging the Train to Tuscaloosa” used in Alfred Hitchcock film The Trouble with Harry (starring Shirley MacLaine and John Forsythe). Meets young Bob Moog (later inventor of the synthesizer that bears his name), and orders a theremin sub-assembly from him to install in his still-evolving Clavivox. Continues conducting orchestra on Your Hit Parade.
1956 – Granted US Patent #2871745 for the Clavivox, a “Keyboard Operated Electrical Musical Instrument.” Still conducting orchestra on Your Hit Parade.
1957 – Granted US patent #2779826 for “Indexing and Selector Device for Magnetic Tape Recorders.” Invents film & soundtrack synchronization device, the “Videola.” NBC cancels Your Hit Parade. (Program is revived on CBS in 1958 with Collins in the cast, while Scott pursues other projects.)
1958 – Named A&R Director for Everest Records (produces singer Gloria Lynn‘s debut album and auditions Bo Diddley). Records Rock & Roll Symphony for the label; the album is neither R&R nor symphony, but a bland collection of orchestral schmaltz. (It is twice reissued under titles Amor and Warm Rain.) Composes score for film Never Love A Stranger (starring Steve McQueen). Builds electronic music device, the “Circle Machine.” Carl Stalling retires as WB cartoon music director; his successors, Milt Franklyn and William Lava, continue sporadically using Scott titles in WB cartoon scores. Scott suffers first of several heart attacks; a cardiac specialist predicts Scott will die within one year.
1959 – Scott does not die of a heart attack. Develops first version of automatic composition-performance device, the “Electronium.” Granted US Patent #2998939 for “Automatic Tape Transporting and Position Device.” Releases LP The Unexpected (on Top Rank), featuring second Raymond Scott & the Secret Seven line-up of jazz all-stars.
1960 – Establishes electronic music company, the World of Sound. Composes score for film The Pusher. Invents two electronic music devices, the “Rhythm Synthesizer” and the “Pitch Sequencer.” Performs with wife Dorothy Collins on NBC’s Bell Telephone Hour episode entitled “We Two” (which also featured Les Paul & Mary Ford, Sheila & Gordon McRae, and other performing couples).
1961 – Invents electronic music device, the “Juxtaposition Matrix.” Establishes commercial soundtrack division, Electronic Audio Logos, Inc.
1962 – Final usage of a Scott composition in a classic WB cartoon (“Powerhouse” in A Sheep in the Deep, directed by Chuck Jones).
1963 – Records three all-electronic LPs, Soothing Sounds for Baby, released on the Epic label. Invents electronic music device “Bandito the Bongo Artist” (drum machine).
1965 – Raymond and Dorothy Collins are divorced. Scott moves to 3 Willow Park, an industrial complex on Long Island, where he lives and works in a spacious laboratory-cum-bachelor pad. Meets and begins to collaborate with Muppets-creator Jim Henson, producing electronic soundtracks for films and TV. Granted US Patent #846835 for “Automatic Rhythmic Keying Device for Electronic Keyboards.”
1966 – Invents electronic “Serial Doorbell.” Is introduced to and begins dating Mitzi Curtis.
1967 – Raymond and Mitzi are married. (She becomes Mitzi Scott.) Establishes electronic sound devices company, the Electronium Corporation of America, Inc. Invents electronic “ambient” music devices, “The Fascination” and “The Participator.” Produces a series of electronic sound-generating devices: telephone ringer, music box, jewelry, baby rattle, games, vending machines, others.
1968 – Granted US Patent #3587094 for “Electronic Audible Signaling Devices,” which relate to such devices as the Electronium, the Fascination, and others. Invents electronic music devices the “Bassline Generator” and the “Synthesized Gong.” Bell & Howell references Scott’s 1959 US Patent #2998939. Suffers another heart attack.
1969 – Invents electronic music device, the “Voice Modulator.” Establishes Nashville division of Raymond Scott Enterprises, managed by Tom Rhea. Establishes optical electronics company, Electronic Transmission Systems, Inc.
1970 – Composes and records corporate promotional album, A Man Named Brown, “a musical for the 100th anniversary of the Brown-Forman Distillers Corporation” — Scott’s final (known) recording with actual musicians. Granted US Patent #3684889 for “Optical System for Facsimile Scanners” (fax machine & scanning components). Introduced to Berry Gordy, president of Motown Records, with whom he discusses electronic music projects. Gordy places an order for an Electronium. Honeywell Inc. references Scott’s 1959 US Patent #2998939.
1971 – Travels from New York to California to work under contract for Motown for a six-month period, which turns into a full-time position as Director of Electronic Music Research and Development. Raymond and Mitzi sell their Long Island home and move to Van Nuys CA.
1972 – Invents electronic music devices, the “Melody Maker” and the “Rhythm Guitar Simulator.” Suffers heart attack, undergoes bypass operation.
1973 – Establishes electronic audio devices company, Raymond Scott Laboratories, Inc. General Electronic references Scott’s 1970 US Patent #3684889.
1974 – Invents electronic music device the “Musical Measurement Readout System.”
1975 – A.B. Dick Company references Scott’s 1970 US Patent #3684889.
1976 – Undergoes bypass heart surgery again.
1977 – Retires from Motown. IBM references Scott’s 1953 US Patent #2779826.
1978–1986 – Continues inventing, composing, and recording in home electronics lab.
1978 – Attempts to market the “Musical Measurement Readout System.”
1979 – Suffers another heart attack. Undergoes physical therapy.
1980 – Sony Corp. references Scott’s 1953 US Patent #2779826 (magnetic tape mechanisms).
1981 – General Signal Corp. references Scott’s 1968 US Patent #3587094 (electronic audio circuitry).
1982 – Xerox Corp. references Scott’s 1970 US Patent #3684889 (optical scanning). Atari Inc. references Scott’s 1968 US Patent #3587094 (electronic audio circuitry).
1983 – Undergoes triple bypass heart surgery.
1985 – Scott, in retirement, is interviewed by telephone on July 14 by Chicago big band DJ Mike Rapchak, who only wants to discuss Scott’s old swing band. Rapchak casually asks Scott about his music in WB cartoons, a topic Scott has never discussed in public. Scott comments: “Yeah, a lot of kids grew up to that music because of the fact they heard ‘Powerhouse’ there, and all kinds of stuff. They used ‘Toy Trumpet’ a lot, they used ‘Powerhouse,’ they used ‘Huckleberry Duck,’ and they used ‘Minuet in Jazz,’ and they probably used ‘Siberian Sleigh Ride’ too. And … a lot of stuff that I can’t even remember.” He then changes the subject and never mentions cartoons again.
1987 – Records final electronic compositions (incl. “Beautiful Little Butterfly”) on a computer.
1987-88 – Suffers series of heart attacks and strokes. Afflicted with partial paralysis, Scott is unable to work or verbally communicate coherently.
1990 – Record collector/artist Byron Werner, a fan of Scott’s 78s and cartoons, discovers Scott’s name in the L.A. phone directory and calls. Werner is told by Mitzi that because of his health, Raymond cannot speak on the phone. Werner passes phone number to Irwin Chusid, who speaks with Mitzi, offers to help revive Scott’s legacy, and visits their Van Nuys home many times between 1991 and 1995.
1991 – First CD of Scott’s Quintette music, The Man Who Made Cartoons Swing: Powerhouse, Vol. 1, issued on Stash label, produced by Irwin Chusid and Will Friedwald. (There is no Vol. 2.)
1992 – Reckless Nights and Turkish Twilights, compilation of Scott’s classic Quintette recordings 1937-39, released on Columbia, produced by Irwin Chusid (Hal Willner, executive producer).
1992 – The Ren & Stimpy Show (premiered in 1991) begins including Scott Quintette recordings in cartoons (they appear in 13 episodes thru 1995).
1994 – Raymond Scott dies, February 8, age 85. A memorial service is held in New York on May 14. Scott’s personal collection of recordings, documents, correspondence, photos, sheet music, and ephemera is donated to the University of Missouri at Kansas City, where it is archived in two separate collections (audio and documents). Dorothy Collins dies, July 21, age 67. Dutch radio network ensemble, the Wooden Indians, records album of RSQ repertoire entitled Celebration on the Planet Mars, produced by Gert-Jan Blom.
1995 – Mark Mothersbaugh (of Devo) purchases Scott’s (non-working) Electronium, with a stated intention of having the device restored to working condition. Musician/fan Jeff Winner sets up first Raymond Scott website. Basta Records is established in the Netherlands; first releases include reissue of Wooden Indians RSQ album, with the band renamed the Beau Hunks Sextet.
1996 – New York club the Bottom Line hosts a 24-musician, two-set concert tribute to Scott, produced by Irwin Chusid. Participating musicians include Rob Thomas, Steven Bernstein, Phillip Johnston, Jane Scarpantoni, Dennis Diken, Brian Dewan, David Garland, Michael Hashim, Will Holshouser, R. Stevie Moore, Chris Butler, and others. (A second concert, with overlapping personnel, including a guest speaking appearance by Bob Moog, is staged in 1997.)
1997 – Soothing Sounds for Baby reissued on Basta.
1998 – Jeff Winner purchases domain RaymondScott.com and sets up first Scott information clearinghouse on the web.
1999 – The Raymond Scott Orchestrette (avant la lettre), a modernistic septet which reinvents Scott’s works, performs its debut public concert, at the Jewish Museum, in New York.
2001 – Scott’s first wife, Pearl (Zimney) Winters dies, age 90.
2008 – Ectoplasm, the first CD of recordings by Scott’s 1948-49 Quintet, released on Basta.
2010 – Stan Warnow completes and exhibits Deconstructing Dad, a very personal Raymond Scott biography of his musical father.
2012 – Mitzi Scott dies, age 93. Heirs of Raymond Scott establish Reckless Night Music LLC to administer the Scott estate. Scott’s Suite for Violin and Piano is issued on Basta.
2013 – Raymond Scott Rewired, a spectacular mash-up project of Scott recordings from all periods, is issued on Basta, with tracks mixed by the Bran Flakes, Evolution Control Committee, and Go Home Productions.
2016 – Scott family establishes RaymondScott.net as the legacy website.
2017 – Three Willow Park: Electronic Music from Inner Space, 1961–1971, a new collection of previously unreleased Scott electronica, is issued on Basta.
2018 – Scott family hosts multi-media Scottworks Festival, Sept. 8 in Los Angeles. Participants include Hal Willner, Brian Kehew, Morgan Neville, Ego Plum, Skip Heller, Jerry Beck, Tiffany Anders, Jeremy Cohen‘s Quartet San Francisco, and many others.
2019 – Pop/R&B artist Lizzo (in a duet with Missy Elliot) samples Scott’s electronic recording “Nescafé” (from Manhattan Research Inc.) in song “Tempo” from her hit album Cuz I Love You. The Jingle Workshop, a collection of 120 advertising musical miniatures composed and recorded by Scott from 1951–1965, is released on 2-CD and 2-LP sets on the Modern Harmonic label. T-Bone Burnett samples Scott’s “Pygmy Taxi Corporation” in his song “Anti-Cyclone,” from his album The Invisible Light.
2020 – Lizzo‘s “Tempo,” which samples Scott (see 2019 above), is licensed for the TV series Euphoria (HBO), Empire (Fox), Bigger (BET), So You Think You Can Dance (Fox), The MTV Video Music Awards, The Peoples’ Choice Awards (E!), and The MTV European Music Awards.
2021 – Scott’s electronic music legacy is showcased in photos, historical artifacts, and stories at Google Arts & Culture’s Music, Makers & Machines online “museum,” which celebrates the history of electronic music.
2023 – Quartet San Francisco and Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band release Raymond Scott Reimagined, an album of all-new arrangements of Scott classics for string quartet and jazz orchestra, with vocal contributions by Take Six. In November, Scott and Goodwin receive a Grammy nomination in the Best Instrumental Composition category for the debut recording of “Cutey and the Dragon,” which appears on the album. This is Scott’s first Grammy nomination in his life — and in his afterlife.