Early rock and roll was generally the purview of good-ol’ Southern boys, but Jack Scott proved the exception. Hailing from Ontario, he had a string of hits in the late ‘50s that led Dave Marsh to call him “undeniably the greatest Canadian rock and roll singer of all time.” He never quite hit the heights of your Hollys or Presleys, but just earlier this year he was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame. Now he gets another tribute from Detroit septet Rio and the Rockabilly Revival, who cover his debut single “Leroy.” As they explain, the choice is less coincidental than you might imagine:
Growing up, Rio was steeped in the Rockabilly Music scene. Her uncle is one of the forefathers and legends, Jack Scott, the original writer and performer of the song. It was originally titled “Greaseball,” but re-titled something a bit more politically correct for use in an Italian-American family. As a child, Rio memorized every vocal part, including all the backgrounds and more, on all of Jack’s recordings. She would sing on a little Kustom amplifier he owned and kept in his basement, and was the same amp he used when he performed on American Bandstand. When she was 10, he gave her the amp, and she uses it to this very day. Rio would press her ear up to the giant brown cloth-covered speakers of her family’s record player and study every nuance, getting butterflies in her stomach when she would hear a singer breathe or the fingers of a guitarist squeak so slightly against the strings. Rio would sing the music of Jack Scott and Johnny Cash out her 2nd floor bedroom window late every night, after everyone else was asleep, after midnight. And every night, the neighbors’ German Shepard, Rebel, would curl up by the fence where he could see her, and she would serenade him while he laid and wagged his tail at her. We are calling these songs the Midnight Rebel Sessions.
Stream “Leroy” below.
Check out more on Rio and the Rockabilly Revival at Facebook.