Scott Mathews (born July 25, 1955) is an American music producer, composer, performer, and entrepreneur. With sales of more than 40 million units and downloads sold, he has earned over 20 gold and multi-platinum RIAA Certification awards.
As a recording artist, he recorded for Capitol Records and established the video department at Capitol just prior to MTV. He has made the Billboard Magazine Top 40 list in multiple genres almost every year since he began in 1976.
Mathews owns and operates a private studio, TikiTown, along with four production and publishing companies. He is the Chief Creative Officer of proTunes, an online business-to-business music search and licensing solution based in Beverly Hills and Dublin. He also serves as Chairman of the San Francisco Bay Area Council of Little Kids Rock, named 2014 top-rated nonprofit, which provides a nationwide program of free musical education and instruments to impoverished public schools.
Mathews began his professional music career very young. At 15 he got his first break playing with American blues musician Elvin Bishop at San Francisco's legendary Fillmore Auditorium.
Session musician to songwriter
In 1973 Mathews met future long-time collaborator Ron Nagle. Nagle was already an established songwriter and recording artist for Warner Brothers and had made the cult-classic, 'Bad Rice'. Nagle and Mathews teamed up and began to write and record material in Nagle's garage studio in San Francisco. Turning 18, Mathews moved to Sausalito, CA, sharing a house with David Jenkins (musician) of Pablo Cruise, making a living as a session musician while writing and producing 'blueprints for records' with Nagle.
Some of the session work included radio and television jingles and Mathews soon began producing them for various ad agencies, playing all the musical instruments and singing the vocals himself. Strangely, this path paved the way for Roy Orbison to be the very first artist Mathews ever produced in the recording studio. Mathews achieved this having convinced a large advertising agency he could get Orbison to license his biggest worldwide hit, Oh, Pretty Woman for "Tone Soap", a women's soap product. The campaign was such a success that Mathews followed it up with another legendary artist, Johnny Cash on Victoria Station (restaurant) radio ads with exactly the same formula. These projects proved to be Mathews' first, and a first for commercials to feature major hit recording artists in ad campaigns.
Ron Nagle's producer from his solo record, Jack Nitzsche, heard some of the duo's new material and hired them to work on film scores and record projects. Nitzsche was the persuasive, cognitive musical wheel in the studio works of Phil Spector and the early to mid-period records by The Rolling Stones. His arrangements adorned many hits by Jackie DeShannon, Gene Pitney, Darlene Love, The Crystals, The Righteous Brothers, Neil Young, etc. although he had only one hit under his name, "The Lonely Surfer", released in 1963. Later, he would win an Oscar for co-composing "Up Where We Belong." In Nitzsche, Mathews found his mentor and 'godfather' in the music business and high-profile projects followed soon after.
Performing and producing sessions under Nitzsche, Mathews worked on his first movie soundtrack, the multiple Academy Awards winning film One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and was Nitzsche's multi-instrumentalist and close assistant on various recording projects with major artists such as Mick Jagger, Barbra Streisand, Glen Campbell, Ry Cooder, Dr. John and a plethora of others.
In 1977, Barbra Streisand heard one of Mathews and Nagle's songs at a meeting with Jack Nitzsche. She asked to meet with the two composers and they got along so well, the three immediately began writing together in a bungalow at The Beverly Hills Hotel. The end result was Mathews and Nagle landed two previously written songs on Superman, selling more than five million units upon release. Mathews also assisted Nitzsche in writing the arrangements for the album. Mathews and Nagle also wrote and published songs by The Tubes including the cult favorite, "Don't Touch Me There".
Also in 1977, Mathews performed several major roles on Glen Campbell's #1 crossover hit, Southern Nights which went #1 on the pop, rock and country charts. Mathews also worked on the album of the same name, Southern Nights on Capitol Records by not only performing multiple instruments on the sessions but also choosing material for the album (including the title song), rehearsing the material with Campbell and hiring the musicians for Nitzsche who did the arrangements.
Mathews' friend Robin Williams contacted him to help with a musical finale for his sold out stand-up comedy shows in San Francisco at The Boarding House. Following that success, Williams took the show to New York at the legendary Copacabana. Mathews urged Williams to record some shows, which led to Williams signing a record deal with Casablanca Records and recording the Copacabana shows. The result was an instant Grammy Award winning album, "Reality...What a Concept", the first Grammy winning project for both Williams and Mathews.
As an actor, Mathews starred as Fluke Starbucker (parodying Luke Skywalker) in the 1977 Star Wars parody Hardware Wars. It is considered to be the most profitable short film of all time, grossing in excess of $1,000,000 on a paltry $8,000 budget; its relative profit margin was even better than Star Wars. George Lucas said in a 1999 interview on the UK's The Big Breakfast television show that Hardware Wars was his favorite Star Wars parody. In 2003, the film was honored by Lucasfilm when it was given the Pioneer Award at that year's The Official Star Wars Fan Film Awards. In August 2010, Time magazine listed it as one of the top 10 Star Wars fanfilms.
Capitol Records recording artist
Following Mathews' writing and production work with artists on A&M Records, the label approached him and Nagle to build a band project. Nagle and Mathews, funded by A&M, wrote and produced material under the name Dūrocs. The duo ended up signing with Capitol Records as a production company to produce artists already on the label and/or new artists they brought in. Capitol's Artists and repertoire division pushed for Mathews and Nagle to record their own album as the first project with the label and the duo agreed although the so-called 'band', Durocs, but never had any intention of performing live.
Originally labeled as new wave and power pop, Dūrocs wrote and produced material that was more diverse and explored Mathews and Nagle's interests in the styles of The Brill Building, Leiber and Stoller and Phil Spector with Mathews playing more virtually all of the musical instruments earning him the title of a 'wunderkind' in Rolling Stone Magazine from writer and senior editor, Ben Fong-Torres.
Being writers and producers first and foremost, Durocs never considered putting a band together in support of the album which shocked Capitol's executives, especially the promotion department which had no idea how to promote the 'non-band'. En lieu of touring, they produced lavish, humorous and highly praised music videos for their two singles which ultimately proved to be slightly ahead of their time. Dūrocs left Capitol late in 1980 to focus on production and songwriting for other artists but before exiting, they set a live pig loose in the Capitol Tower during a quarterly executive meeting with the label. In 1981 the video department Dūrocs built and helped staff became a revenue cash cow at Capitol as the label was prepared to make promotional videos for the new MTV television channel.
The Beach Boys
Mathews' talents on the Dūrocs project caught the attention of Carl Wilson who passed the LP on to Brian Wilson and they invited Mathews to play and sing with The Beach Boys in the studio. After becoming close friends and musical collaborators, Mathews was invited to become a full-fledged member of The Beach Boys, thus replacing their brother, Dennis Wilson who had fallen on tough times. He became known as the fifth Beach Boy after his consistent behind-the-scenes work.
In 1989, Mathews recorded and toured the world with Todd Rundgren. Mathews worked closely with Rundgren on recording Nearly Human and for the tours, Rundgren had a U-shaped stage built for Mathews so he could perform all forms of percussion, keyboards, guitar (on tour, Mathews usually used Clapton's famous psychedelic painted Gibson SG, The Fool, which Clapton used for most of his work in Cream) as well as being a featured vocalist.
Mathews and Nagle co-wrote the 1990 Dave Edmunds worldwide hit and album title song, "Closer to the Flame".
In 1991, Mathews moved to Marin County and founded Hit or Myth Productions, Inc. Using his experience from the corporate music industry and his wont to escape it, he began his own independent dream job, and under Hit or Myth Productions, Mathews hired his own A&R staff for recruiting primarily emerging artists and bought a split level house in Mill Valley, CA on the edge of San Francisco Bay which became his ideal private recording studio, TikiTown. The studio, named for the enormous Tiki statues that surround it, was custom-built on the philosophy of intimacy, comfort and to not feeling like a recording studio. Mathews said he felt he had lived half of his life 'in caves' so TikiTown features sweeping views of the bay, providing artists with a 'bubble' environment to focus on their music without any disturbance or interaction from anyone. Van Morrison was one of the first artists Mathews brought into the studio and he loved it so much he set up an entire large room as a gym so he could work out while there. TikiTown is also renowned for its museum level quality of music memorabilia and ultra rare Hall of Fame type pieces.
In 1993 Mathews and music journalist Joel Selvin met with Dick Dale in Twentynine Palms, CA. Their meeting convinced Dale to come out of retirement and record with Mathews. Dale experienced a renewed interest in his music and earned the #1 college radio record for his Tribal Thunder comeback LP.
In December 2011, Mathews signed on as executive producer with the Hong Kong-based, Far West Entertainment. Less than two months after, Mathews produced the #1 Billboard track "Dance On" with Pan Asian girl group Blush. Quincy Jones signed on for management of the band and declared at the 2013 Grammy Awards, "they are the next big thing."
On May 22, after nearly a year in negotiations with Capitol Records, Real Gone Music released the original Dūrocs record on CD and downloads. The Durocs negotiated for a limited edition vinyl series to be released exactly 33 1/3 years (representing the RPMs of an album) after the original record. Along with the original LP are eight previously unheard Dūrocs 'bone-us' tracks, all recorded shortly after the Capitol release. Worldwide reviews upon this re-release read; 'one of rock's lost masterpieces', 'a thrilling discovery – doesn't sound dated a bit', ' a lost gem – totally devastating catchy tunes', 'the hallmark of quality music' and has prompted more Durocs recordings to be prepared for release.
On January 24, 2014, Mathews helped arrange for his longtime friend, Hal Blaine to be inducted at the 29th annual TEC Awards Hall of Fame at the NAMM show in Anaheim, CA. The evening also provided for a reunion with Todd Rundgren who won the Les Paul Award for his musical innovation.
On October 19, Mathews was honored with a Milley Award, a local Bay Area award for 'recognition and appreciation for his outstanding achievement in performing, creating and demonstrating his significant body of work, service to the arts community and artistic vision, diligence and perseverance.' In his speech upon receiving the award, he spoke; "It has been at least a couple lifetime's of great fortune and I'm most grateful for it. I have been able to live quite comfortably in the Bay Area, hermetically sealed in the recording studio, creating new music rather than re-creating it on stage and living the life of a carny. But I don't think the past can possibly provide what the future promises and deeply feel my best work is ahead of me. The rear-view mirror is so much smaller than the windshield."
Under Mathews' guidance and leadership, Little Kids Rock's Bay Area Council raised more than $360,000 in 2015 to go toward instrument donations, curriculum development, and other resources that will directly impact the lives of 6,572 students in 97 local schools who are currently running Little Kids Rock's free program, also funding training and donations for 50 new teachers to launch Little Kids Rock's music program in their schools, enriching the lives of 3,240 additional students. By the end of 2015, Little Kids Rock unlocked a total of 9,812 students' inner music makers in 147 schools.