Former Derek Trucks Band drummer and longtime Atlanta resident Yonrico Scott has died at age 63, according to a statement from his record label.
“It is with a heavy heart that we share the news on the passing of Blue Canoe Recording Artist Yonrico Scott,” the label said in a Facebook post. “Mr. Scott was a drummer, percussionist, vocalist, visual artist, educator, and a true friend and champion of our label.”
No cause of death has been confirmed, but social media tributes are pouring in.
“When he started a groove, it was undeniable,” said fellow Atlanta drummer Will Groth.
Groth also recalled the Grammy-winning Scott as a stylish dresser. “Yonrico would come in the club, that guy dressed impeccably, he would just put the room to shame.”
A Detroit native, Scott studied with Motown drummer George Hamilton, and later studied classical percussion at the University of Kentucky, according to the Live for Live Music website.
Scott played with several generations of musicians. He was good friends with T.K. Lively, a drummer with Wet Willie. Later, he drafted bassist Bryan Hall, son of Wet Willie bassist Jack Hall, to play in his own band.
“He was one of my heroes,” said Bryan Hall. “I felt like he was an elder statesman; I learned so much from him.”
Hall had spoken with Scott only Wednesday about playing a benefit performance Sunday in Lilburn for the Atlanta Musicians Emergency Relief Fund.
“He had all these plans, all this stuff he was going to do, an album he was going to put out, a group he was going to put together. This is like getting hit by a train.”
Scott frequently played in a trio with organist Ike Stubblefield and guitarist Grant Green Jr.
“We’d get on the phone and just talk for hours,” said Green. “I’m going to miss that. It’s going to be a big void in this town without him, that’s for sure.”
Scott was an in-demand session and touring player, performing or recording with Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, The Allman Brothers Band and the Atlanta Symphony, among many others.
After serving in the Derek Trucks Band (with whom he won a Grammy in 2010), Scott played with the Royal Southern Brotherhood.
Bassist Charlie Wooton invited Scott to join that band, “and for the next four and a half years it was me and Rico in the back of the van, together.”
“Go watch some of his drum solos,” said Wooton. “His facial expressions, the light he brings to the stage: No matter how tired he was, or pissed off, he was always making the gig fun.”
Nancy Lewis-Pegel, booking agent for that band, said Scott was “larger than life. He had a very big laugh and a very big heart. Everybody who met him, fell for him.”
Friends said Scott had undergone heart surgery early this year and seemed to have recovered completely.
Stubblefield said Scott played a four-hour gig with him at the Northside Tavern several weeks ago, and though the drummer was “looking a little pale,” he soldiered on.
The organist sought out Scott for a recording session at his home studio in Conyers just this past Wednesday, and said “he gave me everything I needed in two takes.”
Stubblefield said he learned later that Scott went to the hospital on Thursday.
“I feel bad,” he said. “I know he actually played his last drums with me, so when I heard the news I was in shock.”
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.