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Death of Scott Walker, haunted and uncompromising crooner

The albums of this enigmatic singer, author and American composer influenced David Bowie, Pulp or Radiohead. He was 76 years old.

By Stéphane Davet Posted today at 17:00

Time to Reading 31 min.

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Scott Walker at the time of the Walker Brothers, during a TV show in London, 1970.
Scott Walker at the time of the Walker Brothers, during a TV show in London, 1970. MICHAEL PUTLAND / GETTY IMAGES

Admirer and disciple of Scott Walker, David Bowie could have been the president of a fan-club resembling a true who's who of rock, so much this singer, author and American composer, emigrated to London, will have fascinated a galaxy of musicians and groups , including Radiohead, Nick Cave, The Last Shadow Puppets, The Divine Comedy, Pulp, Morrissey, David Sylvian, The Tindersticks, Goldfrapp, and also French like Etienne Daho or Benjamin Biolay. Young idol, in the mid-1960s, as a pop singer and bassist, The Walker Brothers, then an existential crooner, Jacques Brel's pioneering interpreter in English, before becoming a cult figure of the musical avant-garde Noel Scott Engel, aka Scott Walker, died at the age of 76. The date, the place and the cause of his death, announced Monday, March 25 by his record company, the 4AD label, are still unknown.

Among the first tributes to this enigmatic icon of the Anglo-Saxon song, that of Thom Yorke, singer of Radiohead (who had nicknamed their first hit, Creep (1993), " our song to Scott Walker Recalled: " Scott Walker had a huge influence on Radiohead and me. He showed me how to use my voice and my words ". Former vocalist of Soft Cell, Marc Almond emphasized for his part that the gentleman was " an absolute musical, existential and intellectual genius, and a real star since the beginnings of the Walker Brothers ".

Noel Scott Engel was born on January 9, 1943, in Hamilton, Ohio. The only son of a geological engineer, he grew up in Denver, Colorado, raised by his mother. He begins singing in the local choir, but when he moves to New York, the boy discovers rock'n'roll, particularly attracted by the voices of Johnny Haze and Elvis Presley.

His nascent baritone tone points out, as a teenager, by producers of shows and records, which make him record a first series of 45s, including The Livin 'End (1958). Mother and son then move to Hollywood. Student unstable, Scott Engel approaches the high school of musicians with whom they form first groups (Routers, Dalton Brothers …).

Although he rarely attends school, the singer spends a lot of time in Hollywood Boulevard cinemas where Jean-Luc Godard, Robert Bresson, Ingmar Bergman and Federico Fellini films are shown. This builds a passion for European culture, which he completes with regular readings of Kafka, Albert Camus or Jean-Paul Sartre.

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