NOTE: Scroll towards the bottom to view Scott’s pro bono work for many prominent Hawaiian performance artists and cultural organizations. – ED
Scott Foster currently represents photojournalist/producer/director Catherine Bauknight whose documentary film Hawaii: A Voice For Sovereignty continues to garner international awards and accolades. A protégé and friend of the legendary photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt, Bauknight’s work has been compared to the late Margaret Bourke-White. Bauknight was one of only four photojournalists (the only woman) covering the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre. View the Yale University Library collection of her work HERE. Ms. Bauknight is based in Los Angeles, California.
Catherine says, “Scott Foster is simply the best press agent working anywhere. Time and time again he’s pulled rabbits out of hats publicizing my film and still photo exhibits during our 5-year international journey. His writing, media and communication skills are unparalleled.”
ENTERTAINMENT BACKGROUND & CLIENTS OF NOTE
Scott was in his mid-20s when the dramatic social upheavals that ultimately defined the 1960s & ’70s began. The Black Civil Rights movement found its power as did the Women’s and Gay rights movements. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the Kennedy brothers were assassinated, the Kent State Massacre rocked the nation and the Vietnam War protests ultimately helped remove two U.S. presidents; Nixon and later Johnson.
Scott recalls, “The entire music industry changed seemingly overnight from Patti Page singing How Much Is That Doggie In The Window to Iron Butterfly’s In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida. It was a frightening and exhilarating time, indeed revolutionary and on so very many levels.”
Scott admittedly had a dream job. “I was on the road in my bellbottom pants and shiny new Buick Riviera representing over 100 independent record labels. The ‘Big 4’ companies were Capitol, Columbia, Decca and RCA Victor — and I represented the so-called “Independents” — the smaller labels where all of the real action was taking place. In retrospect, I was promoting the music of many artists that ultimately became ‘the soundtrack of the 1960s & ’70s.'”
“Payola was still happening even after the Alan Freed scandal and Dick Clark investigation — but that all went on at the very highest levels. I was able to get my product played by building my personal relationships and credibility with the program directors and the DJs.”
The irascible Danny Williams at Oklahoma City’s WKY Radio became Scott’s close friend. Williams was without a doubt, the single most influential DJ in the country for decades. WKY Radio was the third-oldest and the most powerful radio station West of the Mississippi. Because of WKY’s tall towers, once the tallest man-made structures on earth, and the powerful WKY transmitters, if you got a record on Danny’s Top 40 playlist, your product would be heard all the way to California, Mexico, the East Coast and in much of Canada.
In addition to his radio gig, Danny Williams hosted a local daytime TV show on WKY TV which was also owned by the privately-held by the Oklahoma City based media empire, Gaylord Broadcasting Company. Mary “The Legs” Hart began her climb to stardom on Danny’s Day.
Scott notes, “I was responsible for getting my artists played on a dozen different stations throughout the Midwest, some large, some small. While my Black music stations were small, they had significant audiences. Once our Motown artists began to cross over to the pop playlists, the audience demographics everywhere changed dramatically. One program director remarked, ‘What’s with all these white people listening to B.B. King?'”
Scott represented a diversity of distinguished recording artists and genre. In addition to Motown, Scott also promoted and wholesaled the recordings of Aretha Franklin and Led Zepplin (Atlantic), Chuck Berry, Ramsey Lewis and Bo Diddley (Chess), Herb Alpert, Sergio Mendez and Cat Stevens (A&M), Tom Jones and Englebert Humperdinck (Parrot), The Moody Blues (Deram), The Rolling Stones (London & Rolling Stone) and Dionne Warwick (Scepter). The Motown family included; The Supremes & Diana Ross, The Jackson 5 & Michael Jackson and Marvin Gaye. Scott said, “The key to getting the big check was to get product into the retail stores before the airplay happened or local concerts took place. It was very challenging but a lot of fun.”
Scott had studied classical piano for over 20 years but quit “cold turkey” after an earthshaking revelation. Scott says, “I woke up one morning to face the fact that I was a mediocre musician and as long and as hard as I might practice, I would always fall short. I simply did not have that extra magic and I never would.” Scott immediately sold his revered Steinway Model A Grand. Scott said, “I had to sell it. After years of 3-4-hour days practicing, that piano seemed to ‘hiss’ at me every time I came near it. It was a very surreal situation. I missed it all of course, but a weight I didn’t even know I had was lifted and I could move on with my new life.”
Scott’s familiarity and love for classical music later proved invaluable and personally rewarding as he promoted the vast classical recordings of British Decca aka London Records — including the first complete recording of Richard Wagner’s four epic operas, “The Ring Cycle” with Sir Georg Solti conducting the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
In 1972, working to safeguard the economic interests of artists and musicians, Scott was engaged by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) to help successfully lobby Congress for the 1972 extension of the then-abbreviated time limits on U.S. copyright protection for sound recordings. While he had always had an interest in intellectual property rights, Scott began to better understand the complex entertainment business noting,” I had finally found my calling in artist management.” Working with only the best, he made certain that his artists always got their money.
Scott was the Personal Manager of the late singer-songwriter Jimmie Spheeris who was signed to a four-album deal at Columbia Records by industry legend Clive Davis. Scott notes, Mr. Davis had a legendary “ear” and instinct. Between Columbia Records and later his own label Arista Records, Davis had spotted and signed, among others, Barbara Streisand, Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Rod Stewart, Carlos Santana, Bruce Springsteen, Chicago, Billy Joel, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Loggins & Messina, Aerosmith, Earth, Wind & Fire, Toni Braxton and Whitney Houston! And Clive had signed Jimmy Spheeris.”
Sadly, Jimmie Spheeris’ career was cut short by his accidental death in 1984 at age 32. A drunk driver killed Jimmie while riding his moped near his Santa Monica home. The beloved artist had opened arena concerts for the Moody Blues and Kenny Loggins, routinely sold out medium sized venues around the world and was poised to be “taken to the next step” with his just-completed new album.
Today, 35-years after his death, all of Jimmie’s original albums are available on Amazon.com and 45 songs are on Itunes. Scott notes, after the rise of the Internet, some fans put up a Web site (The Jimmie Spheeris Memorial Gallery) and later a Facebook page HERE which I joined. Amazingly, many of Jimmie’s FB fans were not even born when Jimmie was killed! His music truly speaks to anyone seeking a few moments peace of mind and hope for a better world.
Perhaps take a moment to listen to one of his biggest hits, “I Am The Mercury” on YouTube HERE. If you’re over 50, you’ll probably remember this song and think, “I wondered what happened to this guy.”
Scott relates, “Jimmie was a true musical magician of the universe. When he took to the stage, he literally hypnotized the audience; picked them up and transported them to a wondrous place of love, golden light and dark shadows, empowerment and hope and then he gently set them safely back down in their seats somehow better for the experience.
Scott later said, “Jimmie’s tragic death changed the entire course of my life.” While few may remember Jimmie’s name, those who lived through that era will recognize his music.” Read Scott’s personal reflection on his personal relationship with Jimmie Spheeris and a catch a glimpse into the entire, fantastic era HERE.
Later in Hollywood, Scott managed the careers of Columbia-Screen Gems songwriters and musicians represented exclusively by the William Morris Agency. When Scott’s client, the Rock band Zoo Drive, was signed in 1985, Kevin Scott, the New Music Director of William Morris Hollywood said, “This is the greatest Rock ‘n Roll band working in the world today.” You be the judge HERE
Scott notes, “There’s a lot of great talent that goes unrecognized or fails for one reason or another. I learned a lot from the experience and when Jimmie’s band project failed, I moved to Honolulu to start all over.” Scott remains in contact with his former Hollywood entertainment attorney Jay Cooper, recognized as “one of the foremost authorities on intellectual property rights in the world.”
Always pushing the limits of new technology, In Hollywood Scott commissioned the design and execution of the first live-performance application of MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) which included a custom MIDI-activated Steinberger guitar for his client John Goodsall of Jazz Fusion band Brand X fame which included Phil Collins on drums.
Scott later partnered with preeminent live-sound engineer and audio-video designer, John Winkler who produced groundbreaking audio-video and special effects systems for Hollywood’s Pantages, Wilshire, and Greek Theaters, Studio 1, and the spectacular Universal Amphitheater AKA The “Gibson Amphitheater” (MCA) — as well as performing custom live-sound engineering and systems design for clients including Barbara Streisand, Johnny Mathis, Barry Manilow, Joan Rivers and Neil Diamond. The duo was performing similar sound and video design work in Honolulu with Hollywood-based Nadine’s Music Stores until Winkler’s untimely death from AIDS in 1994.
The AIDS Pandemic took a terrible toll in the creative and performing arts communities and had a lasting impact on the careers of the survivors including Scott.
Scott was representing Tommy Aguilar at the time of his death. Tommy was an original London and later New York cast member of A Chorus Line. Scott said, “I knew Tommy “had it” (AIDS) but it was never directly discussed and he was determined to keep working. The next thing I knew, we were producing shows and events to raise money for local HIV organizations. Leader of The Pack for the Manoa Valley Theater was brilliantly staged and Tommy’s last birthday party was an extravaganza that brought out the cream of Hawaii’s performing artists and society. Then he was gone.
Since 1987, Scott has been privileged to work with his friend and client, Jeffrey Apaka. Jeff’s annual tribute to his father, the late Alfred Apaka; “Hawaii’s Frank Sinatra” was staged around the Alfred Apaka statue with a 90-minute show in the Tapa Bar at the Hilton Hawaiian Village and drew a SRO crowd from around the world who came to see and hear the greatest living Hawaiian musicians and dancers gather to honor both Jeff and his father. Enjoy the slideshow and music of the 2011 Tribute presented at the Hilton Hawaiian Village to celebrate Hilton’s 50th Anniversary in Hawai`i HERE.
Today, Jeff and Scott continue to work to establish a significant series of events to perpetuate the glorious music of the “Hapa Haole” genre as well as to present current stars and aspiring local musicians and dancers who have little opportunity to earn a living in Hawai`i in their chosen fields.
Scott’s client roster includes sculptor Jan-Michelle Sawyer whose bronze of Israel Kamakawiwo`ole “Brudda Iz” was erected at the Wai’anae Community Center in 2003. Sawyer’s bronze portrait bust of Hawai’i slack-key guitar legend, Gabby “Pops” Pahinui has stood on the grounds of the Waikiki Shell since 2001. In November of 2007, Sawyer’s bronze of Title IX author Dr. Donnis Thompson was dedicated at the University of Hawai`i Stan Sherrif Arena. Her current commissions include a bronze honoring the Hawaiian renaissance voyagers of the sailing canoe, Hokule`a.
Scott was a consultant to the former Honolulu Symphony Society, the Hawai`i Musicians’ Association, and the Hawai`i Arts Alliance. He worked with former State Representative Jim Shon and the late Hawai`i impresario Abe Weinstein to help launch The Honolulu International Jazz Festival and Scott continued to do pro bono marketing for the event through 2005 when Abe Weinstein died.
In 1986, Scott led the successful charge to save the funding for Hawaii’s landmark Art In Public Places (APP) program, a major funding component of the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts. With all at risk, Scott helped create the Hawai`i Consortium For The Arts (now merged with the Hawai`i Arts Alliance) to organize the state’s many arts advocates to successfully lobby the State Legislature to save the funding.
Scott later worked to influence his client, then Governor Ben Cayetano to purchase the original Royal Hawaiian Hotel site as a State Art Museum to permanently house and protect the huge state art collections. Scott continues to facilitate communications pro bono for the Hawai`i arts community via his state-wide email list serve, The Hawai`i Allied Arts.
In 2006, Scott was a consultant to the former Honolulu Symphony Society (HSS) and feels “honored” to have worked with the late HSS advocates A.Q. McElrath and Nancy Bannick and again with the Hawai`i Musicians’ Association to successfully get a $4 Million state appropriation to expand the Symphony’s permanent endowment. Not only that, an additional annual state grant-in-aid of $150,000 was received to support many youth music education programs across the state. The endowment funds are managed by a separate organization; the Honolulu Symphony Foundation.”
Scott had represented the Musicians Union during several tumultuous years while dealing with a dysfunctional board of directors and inept management. Despite their spectacular “win,” in 2010 the 110-year old Honolulu Symphony, “the oldest orchestra in the USA west of the Rocky Mountains” went into bankruptcy and was liquidated. Read more about that history HERE
Scott notes, “The bankruptcy and liquidation was a very sad moment for all concerned. The good news is, the orchestra was revived the next year under the new name The Hawaii Symphony Orchestra by a laudable group of Honolulu business people and is seemingly enjoying excellent public support. The priceless music library with some charts dating back over a hundred years and the rare instrument collection were bought out of bankruptcy by the sage group. A.Q. and Nancy would be very pleased to know how it all turned out.”
Scott Foster has also performed pro bono work for the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame, the Royal Order of Kamehemeha I and The Kamehemeha Festival & Parade Committee, and he enjoys many close working relationships within the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and numerous other Hawaiian civic and cultural organizations. Scott is particularly proud of his small role in assisting the career of Hawaii’s young slack key guitar master, Makana.
Scott notes, “In many ways I’m an old-school press agent. I work very hard to get my clients positive free publicity and to minimize the damage if they somehow misstep.”