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Jimmy Scott 1925-2014

EW remembers the jazz iconoclast

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When ”Little” Jimmy Scott — a rare genetic condition earned him the nickname — died in his sleep at his Las Vegas home on June 12 at 88, the man Madonna once called ”the only singer who makes me cry” left behind a legacy as beautiful and sad and strange as his voice. Born third in a family of 10 and orphaned by age 13, the Cleveland native went on to record with artists from Charlie Parker to Lou Reed, and sang at both Dwight Eisenhower’s and Bill Clinton’s inaugurations. Label troubles led to a career lull in the ’70s and ’80s, and he took a series of menial jobs — fry cook, busboy — until an early-’90s resurgence brought work with Reed and an unforgettable cameo in Twin Peaks‘ series finale. For Scott, the song was always the thing: ”If it tells a story, and I’m interested in the story,” he told EW in 1996, ”then it’s a go.”

For a playlist of some of Jimmy Scott’s most memorable songs, go to ew.com/jimmyscott