When the great, Grammy-award-winning drummer Yonrico Scott passed away unexpectedly on Sept. 20 (the cause of death has not yet been released), the music world lost a true giant. Behind the drum kit, Scott was that rarest of players; one with both dazzling technical skills and undeniable instinct. Whether he was working with Derek Trucks, Earl Klugh, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin or with his own group, Scott was a superlative player with an amazingly good feel for jazz, rock and especially funk.
He also loved playing in the Upstate. Scott spent about 20 of his 63 years playing with various local musicians around town, whether it was at Smiley’s Acoustic Café, Chicora Alley, Gottrocks or Al’s Pumphouse. Scott also recorded an album locally at Sit N’ Spin studio, and he even told me in a 2017 interview that he was seriously considering moving to Greenville from Atlanta when he retired, though I never quite believed he would retire from playing music.
I asked some of our local players to share their thoughts about the passing of this great man.
Darby Wilcox, singer/songwriter/guitarist for Darby & The Peep Show:
He wanted to play music, but he also wanted to elevate others… and make silly comments about my butt. I will never forget his smile. I will never forget his zest for life and music. When I heard the news about his passing, I was shocked and honestly thought it was a bad joke. ‘There’s no way! I just talked to him a month ago,’ I thought. He was a genuine person and I am grateful for the moments I was able to share with him. Rest easy, my friend. Thank you for believing in me. You are missed.
Charles Hedgepath, guitar, vocals for The Bad Popes & solo:
Yonrico loved playing in Greenville. He brought world-class musicians to play and record here. I could write volumes about what he means to me; I will miss him dearly.
Tez Sherard, drummer for Edwin McCain, various others:
Yonrico was a very upbeat, kind spirit that always had a smile on his face and a positive word for you. He was super talented and creative, above and beyond. He and I met back in 1999 and immediately hit it off; I’ve been inspired by his playing since then. He was a true professional at his craft and took music very seriously, understanding it is a business as well as a passion. He will be missed.
Shannon Hoover, bass for the Greenville Jazz Collective:
Yonrico was a consummate pro. He was a mentor and a great friend for 16 years. He took me on the road to play with his band many times, where I got a chance to play with Kofi Burbridge, Derek Trucks, Geoff Achison, and more. But he was always a friend first, giving great advice when I needed it. His work ethic really blew me away over the years. We just played a string of gigs at the end of April of this year. He looked and sounded great, and was looking forward to meeting his granddaughter, who he did get to meet before he passed. Rest in Peace.
Jeff Sipe, drummer for Col. Bruce Hampton, Susan Tedeschi, Steep Canyon Rangers, many others:
He was like a big brother to me. He loved and lived large and taught me how to carry myself with dignity. I watched his life blossom into a rare flower. I’m grateful for the chance to know, work with and be inspired by ‘Rico!
Jeff Holland, percussion for The Grateful Bros.:
I met Yonrico when he was touring with The Derek Trucks Band. His energetic groove and magnetic personality made him an instant mentor to me. I was honored to play many shows with him, and he always brought the jam, every song, every time. He sweated art and rhythm. He loved meeting fans, and he made instant friends with every smile and hug. His talent spoke loudly through the drums, and his personality could be felt even before seen. He just knew how to make people feel great.
Perhaps the best way to end is with a quote from the Yonrico himself on the kind of person he was: “A man in harmony with life and spirit, always in search for the new positive energy.”
Rest In Peace.