Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Scot lang

Bill, I am sending this to you because you have a way of copying
these stories without all the gobbeldey gook that I get. Scot died in
the Verdun General on LaSalle Blvd. Ed

Session guitarist who was a favourite among stars reached great
Sought-after musician accumulated hundreds of credits as a sideman
with the McGarrigle sisters, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Bonnie Raitt
and by his sister, folk singer Penny Lang
Special to The Globe and Mail
June 14, 2007

MONTREAL -- The night he performed with Kate and Anna McGarrigle at
Carnegie Hall in New York was a bittersweet dream come true for Scot
Lang. When he arrived backstage that night in 1980, just moments
before the McGarrigles were scheduled to take the stage, two bouncers
blocked his path. They assumed that Mr. Lang, who looked a decade
younger than his 28, was an adoring fan and refused to let him pass.
Mr. Lang grew frustrated and attempted to push past the beefy guards.
Unfortunately for Mr. Lang, the bouncers pushed back and the guitarist
found himself tumbling, head-over-heels, down a flight of stairs.

By the time the concert started, Mr. Lang had been identified.
Battered and bruised, the guitarist took to the stage, but the lustre
of playing at Carnegie Hall had been tarnished. To use a metaphor that
speaks volumes about his life, he would climb to great heights, only
to discover the wax melting from his wings as he plummeted from the

Born into a musical household with older sister Penny Lang, who has
been described as Canada's first lady of folk, young Scot had mastered
the guitar and piano by age 12. A virtuoso, he began performing at
Montreal's famed Yellow Door coffeehouse as a teenager and dropped out
of high school in 1970 to play guitar in the Montreal production of
the rock opera Hair.

His reputation as a top-notch guitarist spread quickly and Mr. Lang
was invited to perform with Edith Butler in Osaka, Japan, at the 1970
world's fair. Playing the Canadian pavilion proved to be a real eye-
opener: At a gala dinner, the working-class kid discovered just how
high into the stratosphere his talent could carry him when he found
himself seated at the same table as Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and
Emperor Hirohito.

His former companion, John Lutz, said the Emperor made a toast and all
the guests raised a piece of sushi into the air. To a young musician
from Quebec, it was all a great mystery. "Scot was unaccustomed to
Japanese cuisine and found the raw fish so unpalatable he very
discretely emptied the contents of his mouth into his napkin."

Whereas many youngsters might have found themselves carried away by
their own hype, Mr. Lang was void of hubris. Grounded by circumstance,
he was a down-to-earth young man who found himself in the role of
breadwinner - while Scot was still a teenager, his father suffered
from a nervous breakdown and was unable to work.

For more than 14 years Mr. Lang performed as a sideman with Tex
Lecor's band and was featured on the international hit single Le
Frigidaire. He collaborated with singer-songwriter John Lutz to create
the band Frontrunner and later released three acclaimed solo compact
discs: Moods Vol. 1, Scot Lang Live and Zebra. He also produced
Rockabayou with Danielle Martineau, which won Mr. Lang the Quebec
music industry's ADISQ award. Along the way, he developed into a
sought-after session musician who accumulated hundreds of credits as a
sideman with such musicians as James Taylor, Jefferson Starship,
Bonnie Raitt, Buddy Guy and many others.

He also knew first-hand the perils that accompanied a career in music.
He'd witnessed how drugs and alcohol could undermine an artist's life.
His friend Gordon Aronoff, a humanities teacher, recalled a story
about Mr. Lang during a time when he was touring as a bass player with
James Taylor. It was some time in the early 1970s and Mr. Taylor, the
singer of Fire and Rain and How Sweet It Is, was featured on the same
bill with Joni Mitchell at an outdoor music festival.

"At one point, Scot found himself relaxing in a trailer with Taylor
and Mitchell between sets when Taylor begged his bass player not to
leave him alone with Mitchell," said Mr. Aronoff, who explained that
the singer had just left a rehabilitation centre and was concerned
that he might not be able to maintain his sobriety if left alone with
her. "When Scot told me the story, I thought he was pulling my leg,
but his nephew asked Joni when she was in Montreal promoting a new
record and she confirmed the whole story."

Penny Lang described her younger brother as a sweet and tender man who
loved the camaraderie of creative people. She should know: She has
multiple records and CDs to her credit and was accorded top honours at
the Canadian Folk Music Awards in December. As a musician, Ms. Lang
appreciated her brother's guitar skills and liked to use them on her
own recordings. But as a sister, she also understood his limitations.

"He was an all-round kind of player who could stand behind any musical
form of roots music and do a good job," she said. "But he took some
hard knocks in life."

Severe arthritis was one of those hard knocks. Toward the end of his
life, pain in his finger joints made playing a burden instead of a
joy. And for a musician who prided himself on his work ethic, to find
himself unable to perform was a bitter pill to swallow. But unlike Mr.
Taylor, whom he helped avoid temptation, Mr. Lang fell head-first into
his own addictions.

His brother Pat said the world was too tough a place for someone as
sensitive as Scot. "He always worked, he always performed, he was
almost manic, it was always go, go, go. But he got beat so much
because he was so polite - he couldn't stand up for himself."

A gifted guitarist, he accumulated hundreds of credits as a sideman
over the years, but he ultimately had trouble finding his way. Alan
Hustak of the Montreal Gazette described Mr. Lang as "a multitalented
Quebec musician, who, to paraphrase the lyrics from one of his songs,
stumbled often as he followed stars through darkness."


Scot Lang was born in Montreal on Sept. 2, 1952. He died in Montreal
from cirrhosis of the liver on April 29, 2007. He was 54. He is
survived by his brother and sister, Patrick and Penny.


biking2006 MSN said...

This message has been deleted by the author.

gpilon MSN said...

I had been trying to find information about Scot for quite some time in the hope of contacting him. We played together in a band in Montreal/Verdun while we were young, and Scot was a terrific musician at that time. Scot was a very shy and sensitive young guy at that time, and would barely speak as he had a high pitched voice and was sometimes embarrassed by it.   Thanks for publishing this information, although I was hoping to find better news on Scot and his life.   Glen

bobb MSN said...

This is the same Scot Lang that Glen Pilon was inquiring about a few months back. Very sad.


bahama865 MSN said...

nice tribute to a musician and gentleman, i knew the mcgarrigle sisters in st. sauveur in 60,s. they were a trip then. seems they are doing well, how could i contact them, any ideas?? carolyn bennett

les__f MSN said...

I don't know if this helps,.but Dane Lanken ,.an authour ,.and one time writer for the Montreal Gazette,.........married a gal by the name of Annna McGarrigle ,......this being ,not that common a name,.perhaps this guys wife Anna is one of the girls you knew bac in St Sauveur?????? It maybe worth a shot to checkout the Canada 411 ,site to see if you can find a phone number for McGarrigle,.or more likely Laken?? Dane Lanken was born in Montreal in 1945. He worked at the Montreal Gazette as a film critic and feature writer from 1967 to 1977, and thereafter as a freelance journalist, most regularly for Canadian Geographic magazine. He and his wife Anna McGarrigle live near Alexandria, Ontario Looks like ,this Anna McGarrigle...........woth a shot: http://www.canada411.ca/     Look under Find a Person.........            good Luck ..........................................................................HF&RV

edbro68 MSN said...

Another loss to music recently was Richard Bell, known to most as piano man for Janis Joplin's last band 'Full Tilt Boogie' Richard can be seen with the rest of the band on the back of the album cover 'Pearl'. I met him at Woodstock while visiting my friend Ken Pearson (Organist for Janis) a few months after Janis died. We had a few beers together and he told me what a shock it had been to his Father when he went into Rock and Roll. His Father incidentally, was Dr.Leslie Bell, Director of The Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Richard had been classically trained. Ken Pearson also was a marvelous pianist. I remember at a party at my place in LaSalle one evening, he started with Chopin for a half  hour, had the crowd dancing and singing all the great pop stuff for two more hours and ended up with a 'Bumble Boogie' that lasted 25 minutes leaving everyone in awe. We split a 40 of scotch that night and he drove his Jag safely home.

Anonymous said...

Here is a better (and more accurate) article about Scot:


Les_F said...

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Cheers ! LesF