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Steve Scales

AKA Steven Scales

Born: ?

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: Black
Occupation: Drummer, Actor

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Talking Heads percussionist

A skilled percussionist that has collaborated with a highly diverse roster of performers, Steve Scales began his most widely-known musical association in 1980, when he became a member of the expanded line-up of Talking Heads. Alongside other innovative players such as guitarist Adrian Belew and former P-Funk keyboardist Bernie Worrell, Scales helped the band translate the complex, African-rhythm driven sounds of their Remain In Light (1980) album into a live setting. As was the case with several of the other guest players introduced on this tour, he was quickly drawn into the vortex of Heads-related projects, adding his talents to David Byrne's Catherine Wheel dance score, the Byrne/Brian Eno collaborative album My Life in a Bush of Ghosts, Jerry Harrison's debut solo album The Red and the Black, and the Byrne-produced Mesopotamia album by The B-52's, all between 1981 and 1982. His involvement in Talking Heads side-bands was finally rounded out in 1983 with an appearance on Tom Tom Club's second effort Close To The Bone.

Scales' recorded debut with Talking Heads materialized in 1982 courtesy of the live album The Name of This Band is Talking Heads, and he would subsequently perform on the studio recordings Speaking in Tongues (1983) (most notably adding his distinctive embellishments to the popular track Burning Down The House) and Little Creatures (1985). His most visible involvement with the Heads, however, was in the Jonathan Demme-directed concert film/live album released between these two studio projects: 1984's Stop Making Sense, which clearly documented the energetic percussionist's on-stage presence. After Creatures, Steve Scales' involvement with Talking Heads proper (almost) came to an end, but he would maintain several of the associations that were brought about through his tenure with the band -- continuing to work with Tom Tom Club on all of their later albums, and even taking small acting roles in the Jonathan Demme feature films Something Wild (1986) and Philadelphia (1993). A final live appearance with Talking Heads took place in 2002, when Scales and Worrell were invited by the four primary members to participate in a short set staged for their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Steve Scales' musical output was far from confined to just Talking Heads projects, and throughout the 80s and 90s he was involved with numerous recordings and tours by artists in the rock, R&B and instrumental music fields. In 1982 he appeared on the debut album Totem by the "trance-dance" ensemble Gabrielle Roth and the Mirrors, and work with Roth was resumed for both her 1991 release Waves and 1995's Tongues. The mid-to-late 80s saw him recording with everyone from The Psychedelic Furs and The Violent Femmes to Yoko Ono and Nona Hendryx, as well as participating in both tours and sessions for Tina Turner and Bryan Ferry, while in the 90s his musical presence extended to include releases by jazz saxophonist Marion Meadows, hip-hop acts Ray Luv, Young Lay and E-40, and "new age" guitarist Sean Harkness. In the 00s, however, Scales' activities became less publically visible.

    Talking Heads Percussionist (1980-85 and 2002)
    Jerry Harrison Percussionist (1981)
    The B-52's Percussionist (1982)
    Gabrielle Roth and the Mirrors Percussionist (1982, 1991, and 1995)
    Tom Tom Club Percussionist (1982-88 and 1998)
    Yoko Ono Percussionist (1985)
    The Violent Femmes Percussionist (1986)
    Nona Hendryx Percussionist (1987)
    The Psychedelic Furs Percussionist (1987-88)
    Escape Club Percussionist (1988)
    (band:brian-ferry) Percussionist (1988-89 and 1994)
    Fred Schneider Percussionist (1991)

    Philadelphia (23-Dec-1993) · Juror
    Something Wild (7-Nov-1986) · Nelson
    Stop Making Sense (24-Apr-1984)

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