Bluegrass Musician Decides What’s in a Name
Different segments of his life can be labeled and described by his various nicknames. When he was just Tommy, the son of a farmer in northern Georgia, he decided he needed to make a name for himself in the music world. He escaped to join the Medicine Show, a musical and acting caravan that traveled across the U.S. There, he answered to the name “Peanut,” taking on the role of a guitar-playing clown. Next he was “Texas Slim” on a radio show, where he infused comedy and music with his puppet-partner, Luke McLuke. And then he was “Rambling Tommy,” a guitar player and music composer. Later in life, he became “Doc Tommy Scott,” selling snake oil as a medicine man in traveling exhibits.
No matter what name he went by, he always loved Frankie, a southern model and starlet from his hometown. When she took his last name, she became his “right hand man,” smoothing over rough business deals in her graceful way. The two wandered together when Tommy played and entertained many musicians in their home. As a young couple, they starred in a traveling show group and appeared in Tommy Scott shows that were later transformed into syndicated films.
Although he went by many names and lived many lives, one part of Tommy always remains the same. He loves igniting a crowd and hearing the roaring applause. He didn’t particularly love the praise, but he loved the response. He claims snake oil is a cure-all remedy in his traveling shows, but even if it isn’t medically proven, Tommy cures the audience with gales of laughter.
“If you think it will help then it will,” Scott’s mentor advised him once. “If you have the faith for it, the liniment will stop the pain while the herbal treatment sets you to running! One thing for sure, though, if you visit a medicine show, for an hour and a half you will leave your burdens behind.”
Tommy Scott and his wife have one adult child. Now 92, Scott participates in radio talk shows, TV appearances and community theater productions to promote his recipe for snake oil.
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