Scott McQuaig was born and raised in Meridian, Mississippi, the birthplace of the Father of Country Music, Jimmie Rodgers. He began playing guitar when he was twelve and took lessons from Carl Fitzgerald, a Meridian legend known for his musicianship and DJ personality on WMOX radio. Scott played his first gig at the Stardust Inn in Bailey, Mississippi for $10, but it wasn’t until he was in college at Mississippi State that he began playing regular gigs. After meeting Britt Gully and joining his band, The Daybreakers, whose name came from a Louis L’Amour novel, Scott cut his teeth in the beer joints of East Mississippi and West Alabama playing sets filled with the music of Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Hank Williams.
Scott left college and returned to Meridian to pursue music. To support himself and his family he worked as a machinist by day. At night he wrote songs, and on weekends he continued to play with The Daybreakers.
Whenever country stars performed in the Meridian area, Scott would try to get songs to them, often with the help of local promoter Ken Rainey. Rainey brought him to the attention of Tex Whitson, an associate of Merle Haggard for many years.
Winning the Jimmie Rodgers talent show in 1987 boosted Scott’s confidence and heightened his interest in recording. Tex began a search for a Nashville record company with a place on the roster for their developing artists. After first trying CBS, Tex contacted a long-time friend, Jimmy Bowen, President of MCA/Universal records, who immediately made a commitment to record Scott. With Rainey and Whitson co-managing, Scott made a few trips to Music City on weekends and vacation time to write songs.
With the help of Paul Overstreet producing Scott’s demo sessions and Paul Davis singing harmony, a recording contract with MCA records was attained. In November 1988, he went into the studio to record his first album.
Scott wrote five of the songs on the album which proved his ability as a strong songwriter. Scott was also fortunate to co-write songs with renowned songwriters like Max D. Barnes, Thom Schuyler, Fred Knobloch, Mark Collie, and Mike Reid. His studio band consisted of legendary musicians Reggie Young on guitar, Mark O’Connor on fiddle, Leland Sklar on bass, Eddie Bayers on drums, Matt Rollings on piano, Billie Joe Walker, Jr. on acoustic guitar, and Sonny Garrish on steel guitar.
To support his newly-released self-titled album, Scott visited radio stations all over the U.S. while touring with his band, The Dreamers. He made personal appearances on Ralph Emery’s Nashville Now, On Stage, The Shotgun Red Variety Show, Video Country hosted by Shelly Mangrum, and the Country Music Association’s Annual Buyer’s Entertainment Marketplace, appearing with such talented entertainers as Garth Brooks and Lionel Cartwright. He performed shows on the road with George Jones, Shenandoah, Alabama, Vern Gosdin, Jerry Reed, Marty Stuart, Lori Morgan, Diamond Rio, Charlie Louvin, Freddie Hart, The Judds, and many others. One of the highlights of Scott’s career was meeting and becoming good friends with the
legendary Bonnie Owens, who performed live with Scott singing harmony on “Honky Tonk amnesia.”
Scott achieved moderate success with his first single, “Honky Tonk Amnesia,” which reached #46 on the charts. Jimmy Bowen’s move to Capitol records took Scott and his album there, and his second single, Johnny and the Dreamers was released. He went on to also release “Old Memory.”
After years on the road, Scott began to feel the absence from his family was taking its toll, and he returned home. He spent the next several years raising his daughter, Jessi, and son, Hunter.
Scott continued to play locally, but music as a vocation began calling him again. Scott’s love of slide guitar began by learning Don Helms’ part on Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.” Much of Scott’s slide playing was initially patterned after Muddy Waters’ style. He began incorporating slide guitar in many of his songs, and his slide playing became a major component of his performances. After discovering the slide playing of Sonny Landreth of Lafayette, Louisiana, who is regarded as the premier slide guitarist in the world, Scott’s slide playing took a new direction and evolved into his own unique blend of many styles.
Scott continued to write and perform for years before finally being encouraged to record. Meridian native Chris Ethridge, known for his work with The Flying Burrito Brothers, Willie Nelson, Ry Cooder and countless others, also performed regularly in the same venues as Scott. Chris expressed to Scott on many occasions the importance of sharing his songwriting with others. With Chris’ encouragement in hand, Scott teamed up with his band, The Tomcats, and Point Recording owner Clay Barnes, former guitarist for Steve Forbert, to record his latest album, I’m Still Falling.
I’m Still Falling is a collection of Scott’s songs which gives insight into where he has found himself musically. The album is a mixture of all his influences over the years, which is evident in the range of styles. Although the songs join together for an impressive compilation, one hears arrangements that include overtones of blues, country, and rock. This mixture of genres allows Scott’s music to be found appealing to people of all walks. However, he prefers to think of it simply as “Scott McQuaig Music.”