George Scott III

George Scott III
Birth name George Leonard Scott III
Born (1953-10-16)October 16, 1953
Burlington, Iowa
Died August 5, 1980(1980-08-05) (aged 26)
New York City, New York
Genres No wave, new wave, punk rock
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Bass
Associated acts Contortions, 8-Eyed Spy, Raybeats, Human Switchboard

George Scott III (October 16, 1953 - August 5, 1980) was a bass player for several New York City bands during the No Wave era. He was a founding member of 8-Eyed Spy and the Raybeats, and he worked with James Chance and the Contortions, James White and the Blacks, Human Switchboard, and John Cale, among others.


George Leonard Scott III was born in Burlington, Iowa, on October 16, 1953. He moved to Sarasota, Florida, while a teenager, and attended high school there. One of his classmates was Paul Reubens, better known as Pee Wee Herman. Scott was interested in film and stage work at this point in his life, and he was planning to pursue a career of some type in film.

Scott moved to New York City around 1975. Shortly after getting there, he took an interest in the burgeoning punk music scene with bands like Television and the Patti Smith Group. He eventually bought a bass guitar and joined Jack Ruby, a band named after the man who assassinated Lee Harvey Oswald. Jack Ruby intrigued other musicians in their scene and recorded demo tapes, including for Epic Records,[1] that later influenced Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth, among others. But only decades later was the band brought to the attention of the musical mainstream and an album issued, after Scott's early roommate Gary Reese had persisted in urging Scott's brother to unearth numerous tapes from the collection Scott had left in his family's possession.[2]

While trying to make a go of it in music, Scott supported himself by working in record stores, Bleecker Bob's and the Musical Maze among them. After Jack Ruby dissolved around late 1977, Scott joined the Contortions, a band led by James Chance, formerly with Teenage Jesus and the Jerks. He played bass on the four tracks the Contortions had on the "No New York" album, produced by Brian Eno, 1978. He recorded for the album Buy, released by ZE Records in 1979, but James Chance erased his bass lines before it was released. That same year, he appeared on a No Wave "disco" album by James White and the Blacks, which was essentially the Contortions with a new name and sound. It was while working with James Chance that Scott met Jody Harris and Don Christensen, who would later join him in the Raybeats.

After leaving James Chance in early 1979, Scott worked with John Cale, formerly of The Velvet Underground, playing several live gigs with him that developed into Cale's Sabotage/Live album, released in 1979. It was around this time that Scott teamed up with Lydia Lunch, who had worked with Chance in Teenage Jesus, to form 8-Eyed Spy, a fairly popular No Wave band that also consisted of Pat Irwin, Michael Paumgarden and Jim Sclavunos.

While 8-Eyed Spy was starting to garner some notoriety, Scott decided to form an instrumental band. He teamed up with former Contortions Harris and Christensen, and fellow 8-Eyed Spy member Pat Irwin, to form the Raybeats in the fall of 1979. Over the next year, the band built up a following by playing several places in the New York area, as well as around the USA.

On August 5, 1980, George Scott died from a heroin overdose. It was a drug he had first experimented with about three years earlier when he was a member of Jack Ruby. Following Scott's death, 8-Eyed Spy decided to call it quits. The Raybeats, however, soldiered on, recruiting Danny Amis (now with Los Straitjackets) on bass.

George Scott was buried in his hometown of Burlington, Iowa.


  1. Cohan, Brad (December 28, 2011). "The Story Behind 1970s-era NYC Proto Punks Jack Ruby". Village Voice. Retrieved December 29, 2011.
  2. Cohan, Brad (December 28, 2011). "Q&A: Proto-Punks Jack Ruby And No Wave Goddess Lydia Lunch On Finding The Lost Tapes And Remembering Boris Policeband And The Contortions' George Scott". Village Voice (blogs). Retrieved December 29, 2011.

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