Scott Radio Service

Scott Radio Service - Jackson

Scott Radio Service Company, located at 128 North Gallatin Street, just north of this site, was one of the first businesses in Mississippi to offer professional recording technology. The Jackson-based Trumpet record label used the Scott studio for sessions with blues legends Sonny Boy Williamson (Rice Miller) and Elmore (Elmo) James, along with many other blues, gospel, and country performers, from 1950 to 1952. Owner Ivan M. Scott later moved the company to 601C West Capitol Street.

Mississippi is famed as a rich source of musical talent, but few artists were commercially recorded in the state prior to World War II. Recording technology was prohibitively expensive and most studios were located in northern cities, although companies sometimes sent teams south to set up equipment in hotel rooms or other facilities to record local artists. The OKeh label recorded in Jackson in 1930 and the American and Brunswick record corporations did sessions in Jackson in 1935 and Hattiesburg in 1936, but otherwise the only early blues recordings done in Mississippi were conducted by folklorists, including John A. and Alan Lomax, using bulky portable equipment.

In the wake of World War II dramatic technological, social, legal, and economic developments transformed the recording industry. Many new independent labels emerged, often catering to the new rhythm & blues and country & western markets, including Jackson’s Trumpet Records, founded by Willard and Lillian McMurry. The label initially had to outsource the recording of artists, and held its first session in April of 1950 at local radio station WRBC, which like many other stations at the time had equipment for recording commercials and in-house programming. In November of that year Trumpet began recording country, gospel, and blues artists at Scott Radio Service Company, operated by Ivan M. Scott (1907-1986), a Florida native who came to Jackson in the 1930s. Scott, who worked at various times as an appliance repairman, Columbia Records representative, jukebox operator, WRBC radio engineer, and communications consultant, opened shop here with Ernest A. Bradley, Jr., under the name Radio Service Company around 1947. Scott, who soon became sole owner of the firm, recorded music on a disc cutting machine for the Trumpet sessions, although many recording studios were using tape by the early ’50s.

Scott engineered more than seventy recordings for Trumpet, including the first releases by Elmore James (“Dust My Broom”) and Sonny Boy Williamson No. 2 (“Eyesight to the Blind”), as well as sides by bluesmen Big Joe Williams, Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup, Willie Love, Luther and Percy Huff, Earl Reed, Clayton Love, Bobo “Slim” Thomas, Lonnie Holmes, and Sherman Johnson. Prior to establishing their own Diamond Studio in 1954, the McMurrys also issued recordings made at radio stations including Hattiesburg’s WFOR and Laurel’s WLAU and at studios including Sam Phillips’s Memphis Recording Service and Ammons Studio (later Delta Recording Company) in Jackson. Jimmie Ammons recorded a wide variety of music and issued records by blues artists Tommy Lee (Thompson), Little Milton Anderson, and Tabby Thomas on his Delta label.

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