Hearts are heavy today among music lovers who are learning about the passing on Monday of Milwaukee soul legend Harvey Scales at the age of 78.
Born in 1941, Scales was a fixture on the scene here for decades, and shows with his band The Seven Sounds, with the late Al Vance on bass, were hard-hittin’, sweat-inducing workouts.
Scales also was well-known nationally for hits he wrote for others, including Johnny Taylor’s smash hit, "Disco Lady."
We last saw Scales at Summerfest 50 in 2017 and he was still rocking.
News of his passing was reported yesterday on RadioFacts.com and in Facebook posts by family members.
We'll miss you, Harvey.
Alderman Khalif J. Rainey issues this statement about Scales on Tuesday:
"I am saddened to learn of the passing of Milwaukee’s own legendary soul singer and musician, Harvey Scales. He passed yesterday at age 78.
"I’ve heard from a few people who remember Harvey working at the American Motors plant way back when, and how he was – in many ways – just a normal Milwaukee guy. In Milwaukee, before he broke onto the national scene as a songwriter, he was known as "Twistin’ Harvey," and in 1961, he and longtime friend, the late Albert Vance, formed the group Harvey Scales and The Seven Sounds, and released several singles that garnered significant attention because of their sound and superior dance-friendliness.
"Harvey Scales was active in the music industry locally and nationally dating back to the 1960s, performing live and composing songs for groups such as The Dells, The Dramatics and The O’Jays, and well-known nationally for co-writing the hit songs "Love-Itis" and "Disco Lady," the platinum-selling song made famous by R&B legend Johnnie Taylor. Despite all of that success and praise, it was not at all unusual to catch Harvey’s live club shows across Milwaukee with The Seven Sounds, delighting smaller sized crowds with his soulful vocals and smooth dance moves.
"Harvey was a positive influence on musicians and others he came in contact with in Milwaukee and beyond, and we will remember him for his many positive contributions, including The Harvey Scales Fund, aimed at helping retired musicians and entertainers in need of assistance or who have medical needs.
"Harvey was a true legend and an immensely talented son of Milwaukee. He will be missed."
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in an episode of TV's "Party of Five," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.