The What’s New

High and Dry with The Yachtsmen Buena VistaThe What’s New have always fascinated record collectors: mistakenly listed as a Florida band, they released two EPs in France but nothing in the U.S.

Spike Priggen found some great videos of the What’s New performing on French TV and suggested we collaborate on a post, which I put up at Bedazzled last month.

Their story starts with the Yachtsmen, a folk group founded by students at Long Beach City College in 1959. The Yachtsmen became regulars at Disneyland in Anaheim, releasing an LP on Disney’s Buena Vista label (BV-3310), High and Dry with The Yachtsmen in 1961.

On the LP the group were Carl Berg (vocals, guitar), Ray Jordan (vocals, banjo, string bass), Jay Huling (aka Jay Hulingpart, vocals, guitar, bongos), and Bill Reed (vocals, bass). Other members included Kevin Shipman and Mickey Elley.

The Yachtsmen continued performing at Disneyland for the next several years, appearing on another LP, Jack Linkeletter Presents a Folk Festival.

Kevin Shipman created a video history of the Yachtsmen and What’s New with photos and music.

Bud Hedrick and Colin Scot at Coke Corner
Bud Hedrick and Colin Scot at Coke Corner, photo courtesy Bud Hedrick.

Meanwhile Scot Thistlewaite (stage name Colin Scot) had been playing banjo and guitar with a ragtime duo called Bud and Scotty at Coke Corner in Disneyland, with Bud Hedrick on piano.

Scot was born in the UK, moved to Canada in the late ’50s where he went to Sir Adam Beck Collegiate High School in London, Ontario, then moved to California where he attended Cal State University at Long Beach.

In October, 1965, French chanteuse Line Renaud and her husband Louis “Loulou” Gasté saw the Yatchsmen at Disneyland and brought the group over to Paris in January, 1966.

Kevin Shipman wrote to me about how Scot joined the group:

Scotty was a friend of our folk group The Yachtsmen when we were all at Disneyland. As you have noted in your piece, he and Bud Hedrick played ragtime at Coke Corner.

Line Renaud Pathe EPSome time in December 1965, Line Renaud, the star of the Casino de Paris in Las Vegas, toured Disneyland and saw us performing. Shortly after that we received a call from her representative saying that she wanted us to come to Paris to be second billing in her new show at the original Casino de Paris. We talked about it and decided it would be a great opportunity to live in an amazing place and to re-charge our creative batteries.

One of our guys was finishing up his master’s degree and had just been engaged to be married and he declined to make the trip. We immediately went to Scotty to see if he might be interested. He jumped a foot off the ground and yelled “YES”. Scot had just been called up by the draft board and there was no way he could have been a soldier. He was barely an American having arrived from Canada only a few years earlier and he was a committed pacifist. This would be his way out of that and into a new and exciting chapter.

Scotty was the perfect addition to our group. He spoke French with near fluency – something we were not aware of when we approached him – and he brought a lot of energy and heart to what was to become a folk-rock band. We wanted to break out of the folk music constraints and do original music with power and finesse. All the members were strong musicians with great harmony sensibilities and we could all sing solo. I like to think that we were predecessors of bands like Crosby, Stills and Nash and the Eagles.

The band changed their name to the What’s New though they still look very collegiate performing “Des mots d’amor” with Line Renaud on French TV. [Unfortunately all the excellent videos of the band on French TV have been taken down from Youtube since I first posted this article.]

The What's New EP
The What’s New: from left: Jay Huling, Colin Scot, Kevin Shipman and Carl Berg

They recorded their first EP in July, ’66 at Gasté’s own studio in Paris, scoring a French hit with a single version of Gordon Lightfoot’s “Early Morning Rain”. Their first EP also has their version of Tom Paxton’s “The Last Thing on My Mind” and two songs by Randy Sparks of the New Christy Minstrels, “Huckleberry Finn” and “Driving Wheels”.

Kevin Shipman told me:

We had a hit in France (number one or two depending on who you talk to) with “Early Morning Rain” but we did not have the management we needed. Line Renaud’s husband Lou Lou Gaste liked to think that he was performing those tasks and fended off other true management people who approached him.

One of our best moments was one of our last. We played the premiere music venue in Paris – the Olympia – opening for Michel Polnareff and the Beach Boys [October 25, 1966]. Everyone one who saw the show said that we blew the Beach Boys off the stage. They had great hits but they were weak in live performance.

What's New second EP Up So High
Their second EP

Their second EP showcases four original songs by Colin Scot, putting a sharp folk-rock sound behind Scot’s plaintive lead vocal and the group’s harmonies. It includes the now-famous “Up So High” (“Got no use for LSD, every time you look at me I’m up so high”) and the excellent “Get Away” which moves from dreamy verse to tough chorus.

The What’s New disbanded in early 1967.

Kevin Shipman explains:

I had decided that I needed to go back and finish my college studies. I was one year away from graduation and I felt that goal slipping away after a year and a half in Paris. Another member was having marital troubles and his wife insisted on returning to the US and her church group. So, we reluctantly parted ways as friends having come very close to the prize but not at the right time.

Scot could not go back to the US having eluded the military and chose to go to England where the music scene was far more vibrant than in France.

Colin Scot became part owner of a nightclub called Kahuna’s Cave in Cala Mayor, Palma de Majorca, and toured the folk circuit in the UK in the late ’60s. In the 1970s he released LPs on United Artists and Warner Bros, with a final single “Mandolin Man” / “Boris” on RCA in 1977. He died in Amsterdam in 1999.

Kevin Shipman:

My wife and I remained close to Scotty over the years and visited him twice in Amsterdam. He came twice to our home at Lake Tahoe and we found all our visits to be both rich in friendship and yet agonizing witnessing his descent in ever-deeper and more virulent alcoholism. I never saw him pass out which was amazing considering how much he drank.

Our last visit from him was in winter of 1999 and he would die a few months later. During that last visit he was not drinking for the first time in his adult life but he was having liver failure. He resumed drinking when he returned home.

Scotty was a beacon and a natural Pied Piper. Everyone loved him and he seemed to love everyone. I can tell you from reading his poetry that he came to view life in a fundamentally dark way. He trusted everyone and was taken advantage of by many. He had no concept of money management and it vaporized in his possession.

Ultimately, his life was very difficult with bright chapters – Disneyland and Paris in particular – and many dark ones. In reflection, it could not have gone any other way. This was Scotty and there was no other life option for him. Music and entertaining was his passion and alcohol was a demon none of us could exorcise from him. Interventions were planned but failed.

Scot’s writing was always a reflection of his life circumstances. The music he wrote during the What’s New period was mostly upbeat. He intensely disliked the dreariness of London and addressed that directly in one of his solo songs. His writing became darker as his circumstances deteriorated and that diminished the appeal of his music for many. I repeatedly encouraged him to lighten up and inject some humor or irony, as he used to do, into his writing rather than hitting us on the nose with what he didn’t like. He preferred the direct approach. Regardless, he was a great talent and a wonderful, sensitive person.

In the end, he should be remembered as a loving, caring, zany bundle of gifts and excesses. His was the life of the clown. Happy on the outside and often tortured within. The day his father Cy called to inform me of his passing I cried. I knew Cy would call with that message before too long so I was prepared for it. But it pained me greatly and it still does. He was one of a kind and he is missed.

Thank you to Jeff of the Limestone Lounge and Obsolete for the What’s New EP scans. Yachtsmen LP scan from Vintage Disneyland Tickets.

Special thanks to Kevin Shipman and Bud Hedrick.

14 thoughts on “The What’s New”

  1. I can add a few details to Colin Scott’s life in Europe after the break up of The What’s New.
    He was working as a solo artist around Europe, particularly the U.K., playing what would be called ‘contemporary folk’ music. He released several albums in the UK. His first and the most important one is just called ‘Colin Scot’, released 1971 It features several of his own songs listed under his real surname of Thistlethwaite, as well as a number of excellent covers.

    The albums includes musical support from a large number of UK musicians including Peter Gabriel (Genesis), Robert Fripp (King Crimson), David Kaffinetti (Rare Bird) and Rick Wakeman & Jon Anderson (YES). Several songs on the album, became firm favourites with UK audiences and remained part of Colin’s live set until his death in 1999.

    In the early 70s I used to work at a rockclub called The Penthouse, in Scarborough, North Yorkshire in the U.K. Yes, the same one as in ‘Scarborough Fair’ and the home town of the late Robert Palmer. Although the club featured bands such as FREE, Derek & The Dominoes, Thin Lizzy, etc, Sunday evening was ‘Folk Night’ and it was there that I first saw Colin Scot perform in about 1970/71. Colin (or Scotty as everyone he met called him) became a big favourite with the Penthouse audience and returned many times over the years. After Scotty’s death his first album was re-issued on cd by Eclectic Discs ECLCD 1036 and the sleeve notes were written by a friend and fellow Penthouse DJ, Mat Watkinson.

    So if you buy a copy of the CD you can get lots more info from those notes. However I’m going to quote a couple of sections that sum up the feelings of all those that met and knew Scotty. I’m sure Mat won’t mind and I may bump him to him today and I can tell him about ‘The What’s New’.

    “Colin Scot was a big person in many ways; big figure, big fun, excessive (an understatement somewhat), loud, bright and lovely, dry, disparaging and kind and gentle. Right now he is singing ‘Everyday’; close youe eyes and he really is Buddy, though Charles Hardin Holley probably didn’t drink vodka and tonic from pint glasses”.

    I would add that before I became a DJ, thanks to Mat, I worked as a barman at the Penthouse and I can recall serving Scotty large Tequila Sunrises in half or pint glasses and then he would spend ages explaining to us Brits how to serve the best Tequila Sunrise before getting up on stage for 90+ minutes.

    “Colin played regularly and always to packed houses. He was a much loved friend for many years of the club’s owner, Peter Adams who lived in Whitby (a fishing port 20 miles north and where Bram Stoker wrote ‘Dracula’)had a rambling house where many of the artists including David Bowie, Mike Oldfield and Scotty would occasionally stay, sometimes for a week or more”

    Scotty also became friends with Penthouse staff and many still remember the great nights spent in his company. Just last night my friend Frank (another Scotty fan)dropped by, both of us had been going to the Penthouse from mid 69 when it opened until 1982 when it finally closed, and I showed him the posting about ‘The What’s New’and we watched the videos on the ‘Bedazzled’ site.

    Another fan of Scotty, Les, rents my garage, so when he comes by with the rent he’ll be getting a look at ‘The What’s New’ and face the question “Who do you recognise on That Video”? I think Les once spent a weekend in Amsterdam with Scotty when the Penthouse organised a Ferry trip across The North Sea to visit The Melkweg (the Milky Way) Amsterdam’s equivalent of The Penthouse, which was owned by a Dutch friend of Peter’s.

    Sad to relate that when Scotty died he was living in Amsterdam and the news never reached many of his friends and fans who were by now scattered around the world so they couldn’t get to the funeral. If they had I know the crowd would have been enormous and made up of the friends, fans and fellow musicians who loved him.

    If you get the opportunity please grab a copy of any of Scotty’s three albums on vinyl, as far as I’m aware, only the first is available on cd. The other vinyl albums are called ‘Out of the Blue’ and ‘Just A Clown’.

    If you would like to read even more about Scotty then search for Colin Scot online and read the comments about him on the ‘Amazon’ site, what a great

  2. A fantastic post of video clips showing Scotty with his beloved Gibson 12 string. I ran the Uni Folk Club at Exeter, Devon England from 1970 -73 and Scotty opened the folk club each season and packed the place out. His bar bills were something to behold and he remains the only guy I know who drank vodka / gin in pint glasses. His great friend and fellow singer songwriter Allan Taylor wrote Crazy Amsterdam in his honour and his son Barnaby plays accompanying piano to a poem / eulogy to Scotty on the same CD. Mox ( harmonica player ||) is still with us when I last checked and living in Paris and Little Joe ( Partridge ) is down in Cornwall. I am still singing ‘ Do the Dance Now Davey ‘ 40 years on and of course Scotty’s first album is now available in CD format.

  3. I as well as Serge Ogranovitch were partners with Scotty at Bar Solarium/Kahunas Cave in Palma de Mallorca. I also went to Long Beach State with Scot and we became very good friends. Our plan was to open similar bars in Malta, Canary Islands and the Caribbean.
    Ray Boyd (Paris) was our money man. Ray was VP of American Standard/Europe and was our sole backer. He had a 65 foot sloop and wanted to take it to the Caribbean during off season. Our days in Mallorca were like a boyhood dream. Kahunas Cave became the top daytime bar in the Balearic Islands. Europeans would vacation and spend their days with us at the bar located right on the beach. In 1967 we had one of the only copies of Sgt Pepper Lonely Hearts Club Band in Spain as Franco banned it! Compliments of John Kennedy (record producer) in the UK. It was played morning noon and night! Even loaned out when we were closed. Ray invested, not in Serge and I, but in Scot! He was hard not to like! Scot kept a written tally of every girl he had sex with (from pre-college days). We shared a room in our Villa Villa Ballesteros) located in Palma Nova. I visited him twice in Amsterdam trying to get him to come back to California for rehab. He did come back once but did not seem to like anything about being home. I have a couple of his albums and a few photos from Spain. Had more but unable to easily locate. Nice that you and Kevin are paying hommage to a very delightful man. Thanks

  4. I was a close friend of Scott in the early 70s in fact i shared a flat with him and the crazy young lady named Penny Collins.I am not a musical person,in fact I was a extra,sometimes actor but we got on very well.I could tell you a bunch of stories of our exploits together.I miss him still very much as well as Penny,Chris and Joe,they were good times.I would love to hear from them and to tweak their memories I was called “Big John”

  5. hi just found your comments on Colin Scot, I feel I have to try and add a little bit of what i know to this storey of Scottie,who we loved very much, we met Scot,Jay and Kevin in Majorca in March 1967 Palma Nova I think he had just split with The Whats New he was on holliday we were on honeymoon we had a fun time with them one never to forget, needles to say we did keep in touch with Scot I think Kevin and Jeannie went back to France and Jay went to Callifornia would love to find out if they rememer us from Majorca? Joan & Colin from Newcastle England, We visited Scot in London he was at London School of Economics and a club called the Pheasantree a night club, he also introduced us to Tim Rice all those years ago,Scott was with Jo at the time and I remember the song he wrote about her two children Edward & charley they were lovely children and this song is such a special song as I know who he was singing about. Scottie became godfarther to my son Scott in 1970 and Jo was his godmother . I took my son Scott to meet Scottie in Whitby in 1971 at Perer Adams Place Worlds End what a place ,Scot came to visit on a number of ocasions and stayed with us but he was such a free spirit we never knew where he was until he went to Amsterdam with Lesley I did see him in 1997 in Amsterdam That is the last time I saw him.

  6. Hi Colin and Joan. We certainly do remember you and those warm golden days together in Palma Nova. It’s so good to know that you are still the lovely couple we shared time with so long ago. Jeanne and I are also marriage survivors and quite happy in this wacky world. I will write you privately. Kevin

  7. Scot was a hero he was a great guy and an inspiration to a 16 year old.
    He taught me how to sing and how to capture a audience
    In his later life he played with another hero Ray Glyn who I bumped into at an acoustic night about a year ago.
    Ray still plays a mean guitar and once a month in Stansted UK we play a couple of Scottie tunes
    Tonight will see the first airing of “Missing Mister Marley” and “God bless America” for many years
    Many thanks for filling in details Kevin Scot was always a bit secretive about Disney
    Bill Tarran

  8. It’s lovely to hear all these reminiscences about my old friend Scotty. Sadly, I lost touch with him when he moved to Amsterdam. I tried to create a tribute site at colinscot.co.uk but my own failing health has meant I’ve not got very far with it. However, you have stimulated me so perhaps I’ll have another go at it soon. And I would be grateful for your permission to link to your site and use some of the material on my site. Where I shall also add some of my own reminiscences, prompted by the comments here.

    1. Hi Paul,

      You have my permission to link to the site and use some photos and info, as long as you don’t repeat the entire article. If you need help with your tribute site please contact me, maybe I can be of assistance.

  9. Just stumbled in here! Scotty was an icon and great partner. Still remember every day at Coke Corner in Disneyland.
    He was an amazing talent – fab fantastic years!
    All best, Bud Hedrick

  10. Kevin, Jay Bud, David, John, et al.
    I just stumbled on this page and could not stop reading with tears in my eyes.
    Scott and I were good friends in Paris, Mallorca, Amsterdam and Chicago.
    He came to the US and stayed with us for several weeks.
    We were close to his parents in San Francisco where we hooked up with Buddy.
    I sure would like to hear from all of you and see what you are up to.
    my e-mail is Serge@potomack.net.
    I am now in Virginia.

  11. I too remember Scotty from the Penthouse in Scarborough, where I also worked in the early 70s. ( my maiden name is Pauline Collins) .
    He was much loved and we always looked forward to his visits. I only found out recently that he had died… another sad loss.
    I still have my Penthouse poster on the wall ( no. 86). It’s a great reminder of a wonderful time .

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