Ramblin' Tommy Scott

Singer, actor, comedian, and head of one of America's last traveling medicine shows, career spanned seven decades.
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Artist Biography

b. Tommy Lee Scott, 24 June 1917, Stephens County, Georgia, USA. Scott learned to play guitar (and later piano) as a boy and first worked on radio in 1930. In 1931, he formed the Georgia Peanut Band and did ‘blackface’ comedy as Peanut. He worked solo on radio in Raleigh, Greenville and Augusta, and for 18 months, he was a regular on the Wheeling Jamboree. He became associated with the Herb-O-Lac Medicine Show, which was founded in 1890 by ‘Doc’ M.F. Chamberlain, who operated it until 1936, when he passed on the formula to Scott and asked him to continue to operate the show. In 1939, he played with Charlie Monroe’s Original Kentucky Partners, where he met Curly Sechler and Fiddlin’ Dale Cole. He did serious vocals, but at times, also worked comedy with Sechler as Ramblin’ Scotty And Smilin’ Bill and blackface comedy with Cole as Midnight And Peanut. During 1939/40, he marketed his own medicine, under the Manoree trademark, on Monroe’s programme and sold 10, 000 bottles a week. A dispute saw him leave and move to WHAS Louisville, where he used his own Herb-O-Lac trademark. He was joined by Stringbean and they worked blackface comedy as Stringbean And Peanut (in the 50s, they toured for two years in the USA and Canada). In 1941, Scott played the Grand Ole Opry, where he sang, did comedy and performed ventriloquism with a dummy known as Luke McLuke. He then worked on radio and toured for two years with Sechler. Between 1943 and 1947, he toured theatres nationwide and played numerous radio stations, including the powerful Border Radio stations of Monterrey, Del Rio and Tiajuana.

In 1945, he recorded 52 15-minute radio shows for network use for the American Tobacco Company (they were later changed to 26 30-minute specials). He appeared in the B-westernTrail Of The Hawk and made several musical shorts for Astor pictures. His touring show included his wife Frankie (d. 17 April 2004, Toccoa, Georgia, USA, aged 84) (who did magic), daughter Sandra Yvette, his long-time friend Old Bleb (Gaines Blevins who toured with him for well over 30 years) and Blevins’ son, Scotty Lee, plus musicians and other artists. When radio stations cut back on regular shows, Scott concentrated more and more on touring and sometimes, spending over 350 days on the road per year, he played all over the USA and Canada. While many young musicians received valuable experience with Scott, old friends, such as Clyde Moody, also toured. Scott also featured silver-screen cowboys such as Sunset Carson, Johnnie Mack Brown and Colonel Tim McCoy, who actually toured with him for 13 years. In the 90s, Scott was still touring, with what he described as ‘America’s Last Real Medicine Show’, although seemingly he had halved the time on the road and spent more at his home in Toccoa, Georgia. He recorded for various labels, including 4-Star and King, and some early recordings were reissued in the 80s by the German Cattle label, who did a reasonable job of trying to improve the relatively poor recording quality of some of the original recordings.

He also recorded with both Sechler and Moody. Reference to his Medicine Show literature (which lavishly advertises his Herb-O-Lac Compound and Snake Oil Liniment) would indicate that over almost 60 years, there can be few major country artists with whom he has not appeared and few major US or Canadian programmes on which he has not been featured. In 1976 Scott was inducted into the Country Music Hall Of Fame.