Singer Scott Walker dead at 76

Scott Walker, the American singer who attained massive success as a pop star in England before veering off into avante-garde music, died early Monday, according to his label, 4AD. He was 76.

“It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Scott Walker,” a post on the label’s website reads. “Scott Walker has been a unique and challenging titan at the forefront of British music: audacious and questioning, he has produced works that dare to explore human vulnerability and the godless darkness encircling it.”

With a deep and resonant voice, Walker first rose to game as the frontman of the Walker Brothers with hits like “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine.” He began releasing solo albums in 1967 in a baroque, orchestral style that has influenced countless artists in the years since, including albums as recent as Karen O and Danger Mouse’s Lux Prima, released just last week. While his increasingly challenging music cost him many fans, apart from a Walker Brothers reunion in the mid-1970s the singer never looked back, releasing albums that were individual and esoteric by any standard. In recent years he collaborated with artists ranging from arch pop combo Pulp and Seattle drone-metal outfit Sunn O))) to British avant-pop singer Bat for Lashes.

PHOTOS: Scott Walker in the 1960s and '70s

Singer Scott Walker in the 1960s and '70s
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Singer Scott Walker in the 1960s and '70s
Walker Brothers 1965 Scott Walker (Photo by Chris Walter/WireImage)
Walker Brothers, portrait, c 1965. (Photo by GAB Archive/Redferns)
Scott Walker of The Walker Brothers on the set of TV show Thank Your Lucky Stars, United Kingdom, August 1965. (Photo by Stanley Bielecki/ASP/Getty Images)
UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 01: READY STEADY GO Photo of WALKER BROTHERS, L to R: Scott Walker (Scott Engel), Gary Walker (Leeds) & John Walker (Maus) - Posed group portrait on set at Wembley Studios (Photo by CA/Redferns)
LONDON - CIRCA 1965: The Walker Brothers (L-R Scott Engel, Gary Leeds, John Maus) circa 1965 in London England. (Photo by Cyrus Andrews/Michael Ochs Archive/Getty Images)
22nd March 1966: American pop trio the Walker Brothers - Scott Walker (born Scott Engel), John Walker (born John Maus) and Gary Walker (born Gary Leeds) - who had major hits in the UK with 'Make It Easy On Yourself', 'My Ship Is Coming In' and 'The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore'. (Photo by R. McPhedran/Express/Getty Images)
UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 01: TOP OF THE POPS Photo of Gary LEEDS and WALKER BROTHERS and Scott WALKER and John WALKER and John MAUS and Gary WALKER, L-R. Gary Walker (Leeds), John Walker (Maus), Scott Walker (Scott Engel) - posed, studio, group shot (Photo by Ron Howard/Redferns)
UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 01: READY STEADY GO Photo of Scott WALKER and WALKER BROTHERS, Scott Walker (Scott Engel) performing at Wembley Studios, wearing straw hat (Photo by Ivan Keeman/Redferns)
Scott Walker (in dark glasses) one of the American pop group, the Walker Brothers, signs autographs on his arrival in Moscow. Scott was in Russia to attend a course on art and culture following the break up of the band. (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)
Portrait of American musician Scott Walker (born Noel Scott Engel), of the pop group The Walker Brothers, London, England, 1967. (Photo by George Wilkes/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 01: (AUSTRALIA OUT) Photo of Scott WALKER and WALKER BROTHERS; Scott Walker (Scott Engel) of Walker Brothers - posed, studio, portrait (Photo by GAB Archive/Redferns)
UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1970: Photo of Walker Brothers Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1970: Photo of Walker Brothers Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Scott Walker (Noel Scott Engel), formerly of the Walker Brothers, being interviewed in London on 11th November 1970. (Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images)

Born Noel Scott Engel in Ohio in 1943, Walker showed talent as a child actor and singer by the late 1950s and received his first major exposure on the television show of American singer Eddie Fisher. Already showing an interest in jazz and beat poetry by his late teens, Walker moved to Los Angeles and began working as a session musician. By the early 1960s he’d joined forces with John Maus, who was already performing as John Walker, and the pair formed the Walker Brothers in 1964, soon teaming up with drummer Gary Leeds. The group scored a series of pop hits particularly in the U.K., where “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore” reached No. 1 in 1967.

Walker went on to release 14 solo albums. In 2017 the BBC staged a tribute to his music at London’s Royal Albert Hall.

Radiohead singer Thom Yorke paid tribute to him early Monday. “So very sad to hear that Scott Walker has passed away, he was a huge influence on Radiohead and myself, showing me how i could use my voice and words,” he wrote. “Met him once at Meltdown [festival], such a kind gentle outsider. He will be very missed.”

More to come…

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