Day 149 - Scott “Turkey” Rushbury, 1957 - 2020
Of all the Perthshire artists who've made their mark on the wider music world over the years, Scott “Turkey” Rushbury, who passed away last week, was undoubtedly the most rock’n’roll of them all. He was part of Perth punk pioneers The Trendies who then metamorphosed into Turkey Bones & The Wild Dogs, a hugely distinctive band on the London indie scene of the mid-80’s. Primarily influenced by Captain Beefheart, The Birthday Party and The Stooges, they may never have quite captured the improvisational intensity of their legendary live shows on vinyl, but their recorded masterpiece remains the brilliant cinematic psychodrama Raymond. It’s a song which still sounds both fresh and menacing today, and we’d highly recommend you check it out below.
Scott and Colin “Piece” Thompson met at Perth High School in the early 70’s with Steve “Arab" Sweeney joining forces with them in 1977 after they approached him in Wilkie’s music shop where he worked. This trio would be the core line-up of both The Trendies and Turkey Bones & The Wild Dogs. They formed The Trendies in 1977 and moved to London in 1979 in search of a record deal, serving a valuable music business apprenticeship as part of the capital’s punk and new wave scene.
After they parted ways, Scott and Piece briefly formed a band with drummer Razzle, who went on to play with Hanoi Rocks, before they reunited with Steve Sweeney as Turkey Bones & The Wild Dogs in 1983. Although they were on the fringes of the burgeoning Goth community of the time, their artistic ambition far outstripped most of their contemporaries. Drawing on a diverse range of influences but stripping their sound back to a spare minimum, they were fully detemined to make each of their live shows a unique one-off performance and quickly established themselves as one of the most individual bands of the era. Committed to living out each song onstage, Scott brought an anarchic energy and visceral theatricality as the band’s creative fulcrum and frontman. They recorded a single (Goldfish), an EP (Purple Noise Sandwich) and a mini-album (No Way Before The Weekend) and received a huge amount of positive coverage in the music press, including the front cover of Sounds, which was a very big deal at the time:
“If genius is pain, these boys should be in intensive care” Blitz
“They’re wild, they’re free and they’re very, very good” City Limits
“The maddest group in captivity” NME
Unfortunately, the band’s incredible live reputation and high media profile never translated into lasting success following the death of their manager Phil Latham and the band parted ways in 1985. While their music often plumbed dark depths, their material also had a playful, surreal side and Mick Mercer’s brilliant photobook Dementia Calling paints a rollicking picture of the band’s life in London: young Scottish lads living out their rock’n’roll dreams in the big city - and mostly having a great time doing it. Colin “Piece” Thompson also sadly passed away in 2017.
Scott went on to release two acclaimed EP's as part of The Groovy Chainsaws before returning to Scotland in 1992, He was instrumental in creating Clearwater recording and rehearsal studios in Perth, a much-needed facility then and now, and became producer, mentor and rock’n’roll guru to many young bands. He kept his musical muscles toned playing bass with the great Perth combo The Curtains and was a much-loved and mischievous character on the local scene. He bore no bitterness for not receiving the rewards his talents undoubtedly deserved and remained grateful for the opportunities and experiences he had enjoyed: just as his family, friends and fans will be for his colourful presence in their lives.