Songwriter and producer Scott Walker, the powerful pop singer turned avant-garde adventurist who influenced singers like David Bowie and Thom Yorke, has died at age 76. The death was announced by Walker’s record label 4AD, which released a statement celebrating the musician’s life and work.
“It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Scott Walker,” 4AD wrote in the statement. “For half a century, the genius of the man born Noel Scott Engel has enriched the lives of thousands, first as one third of The Walker Brothers, and later as a solo artist, producer and composer of uncompromising originality. Scott Walker has been a unique and challenging titan at the forefront of British music: audacious and questioning, he has produced works that dare to explore human vulnerability and the godless darkness encircling it.”
Walker, born in 1943, rose to fame in the Walker Brothers with John Maus and Gary Leeds. The group, whose acclaim rivaled the Beatles in Britain, released several hits, including “Make It Easy On Yourself” and “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore.” Walker continued his career as a solo artist with the release of four albums, Scott, Scott 2, Scott 3 and Scott 4, before the Walker Brothers reformed for one final release. The musician has released numerous works in recent years, including solo album Bish Bosch in 2012, Soused, a collaboration with sunn o))) in 2014, and the score for last year’s Natalie Portman-starrer Vox Lux.
“From teen idol to cultural icon, Scott leaves to future generations a legacy of extraordinary music; a brilliant lyricist with a haunting singing voice, he has been one of the most revered innovators at the sharp end of creative music, whose influence on many artists has been freely acknowledged,” 4AD wrote. “The scope and dynamism of his vision have added dimension to both film and dance, and he has stunned audiences with music whose composition transcends genre, and whose sheer originality defies pigeonholing.”
Several artists have paid tribute to Walker since his death was announced. Thom Yorke wrote on Twitter, “So very sad to hear that Scott Walker has passed away, he was a huge influence on Radiohead and myself, showing me how I could use my voice and words. Met him once at Meltdown, such a kind gentle outsider. He will be very missed.”
Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich added on Twitter, “So very sad to hear about Scott Walker truly one of the greats. So unique and a real artist. On my way to work on the first day of recording OK Computer I passed him riding his bike on Chiswick High Street and when I got to the studio Thom was holding a copy of Scott 4. I took that as a good omen.”
After receiving a birthday message from Walker in 1997, David Bowie summed up the thoughts of many of his fellow musicians influenced by Walker: “He’s probably been my idol since I was a kid.”
The Walker Brothers – “Make It Easy on Yourself”
Scott Walker – “Farmer in the City”
Scott Walker and Sunn O))) – “Bull”