Accent Records Founder Scott Seely Passes Away At 99

posted February 7, 2011

Accent Records Founder Scott Seely Passes Away At 99

Scott Seely the owner and founder of Accent Records Passed away January 20th at his home in Palm Desert. He was 99 years old. Seely worked the LA music scene since the 1930s. He started his label Accent Records in 1951. It was located on Hollywood Boulevard until the late '60s when he moved out to Palm Dessert. His records documented an entire segment of 1950s and 1960s era of the LA and Palm Springs Music. A genre of Country, Easy Listening and Pop music. His label released almost 600 45s and over 200 LPs and numerous CDs in his lifetime.

Scott Seely, a songwriter, arranger, and musician, started Accent Records in 1954 as a way to promote original compositions for which he held the publishing rights.

Seely's career started in Kansas in 1930 as a jazz pianist and arranger for the Lloyd Snyder Band. By the mid-1940s, he had an office in Hollywood, called "Designs In Music," that provided musical arranging and vocal coaching services. He had calls from artists such as Dorothy Dandridge and Martin Denny (the future creator of "Quiet Village").

His first music publishing company was S&R (Songs & Records) Music, formed in 1951 to professionally represent original compositions and arrangements. He partnered with lyricist/copyist David Garvin and songwriter Mark Bigler. Accent Records was formed two years later as a way to promote songs and arrangements in the S&R catalog by that time.

Since S&R Music was affliated with ASCAP, Seely started two other publishing companies around 1956 with BMI affiliation: Boomerang Music and Meteor Music. While the label was established primarily as a means to promote Seely's publishing, a variety of artists approached the label with demos looking for a record deal. Many of these demos were released under the Accent name. A large majority were quickly forgotten, but a few sold well enough or were "discovered" by record collectors many years later. These artists included The Accents (an R&B vocal group led by Jackie Allen and brought to the label by Mark Bigler, who named the label, itself), Nick Lucas, Ted Embry (the classic rocker "New Shoes"), the Merced Blue Notes, and The Human Expression (a Westminster, California, band whose "Human Zoo" album was reissued a few years ago by Cicadelic Records).

Collectors of novelty records will know the name Smiley Joe Omohundro (aka "Omo The Hobo"). He released a number of singles on his own, independent labels but had no fewer that 45 singles released on the Accent label! Conservative Los Angeles television talk show host Wally George had a 1958 recording ("Drag Strip," his first) released on Accent and Sam Eddy, a founding member of The Revels ("Church Key") had a solo effort on the label as well ("Lonely Walk"). One Accent release that confused many fans of surf music was "Eyes Of A Child / Just A Waitin'" by Dick Dale. This was a vocalist from the Lawrence Welk Orchestra and not the well-known King of the Surf Guitar.

Also of interest to collectors: Accent 1228 by The New Things (1967) was a good cover of The Fireballs' "Dumbo" with a little surf reverb added. Country artist Alvie Self recorded for Accent long after his more desirable rockabilly-styled recording had been cut for other labels. A good rock guitar instrumental band, The Don Gils, made several singles for Accent, perhaps the best being "Guitar Rock / Bad Bass Boogie" (Accent 1199 , 1965).

Accent's greatest success story was Buddy Merrill, who had been performing and recording with the Lawrence Welk Orchestra since 1955. Merrill had been experimenting with overdubbing for some years. By 1964, he had reached a point where he was able to create multi-layered, master quality recordings in his home studio using two 3-track recorders and only himself playing different guitar parts. Some of these recordings were played for Seely who immediately signed the guitarist to a contract, which began a lifelong business and personal relationship involving dozens of singles, albums, and CDs.

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