SCOTTY McKAY (MAX LIPSCOMB)
Born Max K. Lipscomb, 1937, Dallas, Texas
Max Lipscomb is probably better remembered for the three months or so that he was a member of Gene Vincent's Blue Caps than for his own solo career as Scotty McKay.
By 1957, changes in the personnel of the Blue Caps had become common- place. Lipscomb was recruited by Ed McLemore's Artists Service Bureau in Dallas, probably around September 1957. (McLemore was Gene Vincent's first professional manager.) Max began his life as a Blue Cap as a backing singer, but was soon moved to rhythm guitar and he ended up playing piano (the first time a piano was used on a Blue Caps session) at the December 1957 sessions. Fifteen tracks were recorded then, most of them finding their way on to Gene's third LP, "Gene Vincent Rocks and the Blue Caps Roll", released in March 1958. Lipscomb also appeared with Gene and the Blue Caps on the Ed Sullivan Show on November 17, 1957. Soon after the December sessions, Max Lipscomb, Paul Peek and Tommy Facenda left the Blue Caps to pursue solo careers.
The truth is that Lipscomb could hardly play guitar or piano, but he was a good-looking guy with a lot of charisma. His ability to sell himself to prospective labels far outweighed his talent and enabled him to scam his way through a 30-year career in the record business. Lipscomb travelled to Philadelphia to look up Frank Slay and Bob Crewe, who agreed to record him, and - apparently at the suggestion of their business partner Dick Clark - changed his name to Scotty McKay. Under the direction of Slay and Crewe, McKay recorded "Rollin' Dynamite"/ "Evenin' Time" for Parkway, two good rockers, which were reissued this year on the Bear Family CD "That'll Flat Git It, Vol. 20 : Event Records". It's still a bit of a mystery how this single came to be released on the Event label (May 1959) before it came out on Parkway (July 1959). McKay's next two singles - again produced by Slay and Crewe - came out on Swan (another label in which Dick Clark held an interest) and its subsidiary Lawn, both in 1960. In that same year, Scotty was signed to Johnny Vincent's Ace label, on which he had six singles released between September 1960 and October 1962. The first and best of these was "Little Liza Jane" (Ace 603), with accompaniment by Fats Domino's band. I picked up this single in 1967 at the Waterloo Square market in Amsterdam and it was the first time I encountered the name Scotty McKay. Later Ace singles were done with Mac Rebennack and his band, except "Olive Learned To Popeye", which featured a band led by Timothy Whitsett. In 1961, Ace gathered some of McKay's singles on an LP, "Tonight In Person", padding it out with versions of "Roberta" and "Sea Cruise" that featured the original Huey Smith backing tracks.
Scotty continued to record well into the 1960's, mostly in the form of one-shot deals for labels such as Desk, Philips, SSS, Dimension (as the Shut Downs), Capri, Falcon and Claridge, where he was reunited with Frank Slay. He even cut a UK-only single with the Yardbirds ("I Can't Make Your Way", Columbia DB 8147, 1967), who travelled with him on one of Dick Clark's gruelling Greyhound Bus package tours around the Southern states of America. Soon after that, McKay recorded "The Train Kept-A Rolling", which he'd learned from the Yardbirds. The Scotty McKay who had a UK release on London HLU 9885 ("Cold Cold Heart"/"What You Wanna") was probably a different artist. McKay never had a national hit, though he did produce and co-write a Top 50 hit in 1963, Kirby St. Romain's "Summer's Comin''' (# 49). He embraced the British Invasion with the same fervor with which he'd once embraced rock 'n' roll. The seventies were not a good decade for McKay, but he kept hoping for the big deal. His later years were spent dabbling in Christian music. A heart attack claimed him on March 17, 1991.
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