"Talking with some friends after dinner a couple years ago, Rob Tyner explained how it had been the ambition of every Motor City rock singer of his generation to come as close as possible to the spirit and passion of the R&B and soul stars who surrounded them. Then he looked across the table to Scott Morgan and laughed, "All except this guy," he said. "He just went out there and did it"." (Dave Marsh, 1988).
Scott Morgan was 16-years-old when his first band played to an audience of 13,000 fans, literally stopping the show as the screaming crowd rushed the stage. Growing up in Ann Arbor, a hip college town 40 miles from Detroit, he fronted the Rationals, an ace garage-punk outfit managed by A-Square Records impresario Jeep Holland. Their early singles featured assistance from local luminaries like Bob Seger and a blues drummer named Jim Osterberg. A couple of years later, Osterberg was wreaking mayhem all across the U.S.A. as Iggy Pop.
The Rationals' soulful cover of Otis Redding's "Respect" pre-dated Aretha Franklin's by a year, and was picked up for national distribution by Cameo-Parkway. A couple of years later, their single "Guitar Army" neatly encapsulated the explosive ethos of the Motor City and provided a title for MC5 mentor John Sinclair's book of street and prison writings. (Three tracks from an early nineties Rationals reunion can be heard on the career-spanning rarities compilation "Medium Rare" on Real O Mind Records, an essential purchase for anyone looking to discover the breadth and depth of Morgan's talents.)
Following the Rationals' demise, Morgan kicked around in bands like Guardian Angel and Lightning before teaming with MC5 guitarist Fred "Sonic" Smith, Stooges drummer Scott "Rock Action" Asheton, and Up bassist Gary Rasmussen in the legendary Detroit supergroup, Sonic's Rendezvous Band. Swimming against the mid-seventies tide of commercial music, the Rendezvous played their uncompromising rock in backwoods dives as well as hip venues like Detroit's Bookies and Ann Arbor's Second Chance.
Morgan wrote and sang half of the band's material, including their set-opening energy jolt "Electrophonic Tonic." But that perfect balance of Morgan/Sonic proved impossible to sustain and by the time the band stopped performing, sometime in 1980, they had completed only one vinyl artifact -- a two-sided single of Smith's classic song "City Slang." For years, tapes of jaw-dropping live shows passed from hand to hand, fan to fan, until Mack Aborn Rhythmic Arts released the live "Sweet Nothing" disc in 1999, a classic recording of the Rendezvous in full flight. (Also in that year, the Rendezvous remnants regrouped with Radio Birdman guitarist Deniz Tek standing in Sonic's spot for a show at the Magic Stick in Detroit. A recording of the set was released on Real O Mind as "Gettin' There is Half the Fun.")
Morgan spent the '80s gigging with various incarnations of the Scott Morgan Band, releasing the classic "Rock Action" album in France in 1988. The disc contained the single "16 With a Bullet," which received some Stateside press for its topical lyrics about teen violence, and another signature Morgan tune, "Detroit," with its litany of Motor City musical greats.
Backing Morgan on "Rock Action" were the Rendezvous rhythm team of Rasmussen and Asheton. The two also formed the core of Scots Pirates, the band Morgan toured and recorded with through the nineties. They released two solid albums on Detroit's Schoolkids label. The first self-titled disc included "16 With a Bullet" and "Detroit" as bonus tracks, finally making the songs available back in the U.S.A. 1996's "Revolutionary Means" was an orgy of Detroit guitar firepower from Morgan and guest axe-slingers Mike Katon and Bobby East. The disc boasted hard-hitting Morgan opuses like "88," "Fuck the Violence," and "Marijuana Wine" alongside tough covers of R&B classics by the Jimmy Johnson Band and Ike & Tina Turner.
That same year saw Morgan collaborating with MC5 guitar terrorist Brother Wayne Kramer and Ann Arbor expatriate Deniz Tek on a project called Dodge Main. Dodge Main recorded one c.d. for Alive Records and played a series of blistering shows around the Midwest, including one at Cleveland's Euclid Tavern that was recorded and remains tantalizingly unreleased.
The year 1998 brought Morgan's first meeting with Sweden's hard-hitting Hellacopters, a crew of rabid Detroit rock aficionados who knew his work well. His appearances with them, on stage and on record, brought him before a whole new European audience and led to the formation of a Euro-American supergroup, the Hydromatics, with the 'Copters' Nick Royale on drums and veteran Dutch punk-rockers Tony Slug (guitar) and Thumping Theo (bass) from the Nitwitz.
The first Hydromatics album, on Sweden's White Jazz label, included another Morgan classic, "Runaway Slaves," as well as a horn-driven cover of the MC5's "Baby Won't Ya," a staple of his live shows for years. On 2002's "Powerglide," the Hydromatics' stunning sophomore disc, young firebrand Andy Frost took Royale's place behind the thumper throne.
Frost's also a key player in Powertrane, a smokin' unit Morgan formed with ex-Rob Tyner/Mitch Ryder guitar ace Robert Gillespie and another Ann Arborite, Mazinga's Chris "Box" Taylor, on bass. In 2002, the band performed a handful of Midwest and East Coast dates with Deniz Tek, original Stooges guitarist Ron Asheton, and Cult Heroes singer Hiawatha -- a kind of Detroit rock revue. Real O Mind released "Ann Arbor Revival Meeting," the document of a mind-melting show at the Blind Pig in Scott's hometown. A fresh set of Powertrane studio recordings is ready for release, as is another disc culled from red-hot live recordings of a 2000 European tour with Tek and the Italian band 3 Assassins.
And now - the next phase: Scott is teaming with Hellacopters leader Nicke Hellacopter and a bunch of hitshot Swedes to take a trip back to the soul heyday with a new project, The Solution.
Old enough to know better, but too deep in the rock and soul to care, Scott Morgan continues storming stages from Ann Arbor to Europe, playing the good stuff like you thought nobody did anymore. - KEN SHIMAMOTO
FEATURING SCOTT MORGAN
SONIC'S RENDEZVOUS BAND
News Bio Merch Sounds Pictures
Press Contact Links