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Shirley Scott Dies at 67

After a long battle with heart disease, organist Shirley Scott died on Sunday, Mar. 10 at Presbyterian Medical Center in her hometown Philadelphia. She was 67.

Born Mar. 13, 1934, Scott began playing music on the trumpet, but in the 1950s the sound of Jimmy Smith’s screaming Hammond B-3 lured her to the heavier keyboard instrument. By the late ’50s Scott had gained considerable recognition, recording album after album for Prestige, many featuring the bold sound of Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis on tenor saxophone. It was Davis that had given Scott a break in the late ’50s, having her record on albums like Jaws In Orbit and Very Saxy. In 1960, Scott married saxophonist Stanley Turrentine and the two cut many of the most cherished soul-jazz recordings of the 1960s before ending their marriage eleven years later.

Scott will be remembered by jazz fans for her melodic and accessible style, but she made headlines outside of jazz in her last years as she litigated against American Home Products, makers of the diet drug fen-phen. Claiming the drug had caused her to develop primary pulmonary hypertension, her fight against the pharmecutical company won her an $8 million settlement in 2000. The drug is now banned.

Scott is survived by two sons, three daughters, nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Originally Published