“Every trip’s a pleasure trip when you stop at Stuckey’s

Dad and mother and hungry brother love to stop at Stuckey’s…”

Recognize that catchy Stuckey’s jingle? It has been stuck in our heads since that summer we took the ultimate family road trip to the 1964 New York World’s Fair.

But who’s the man that wrote Stuckey’s jingles? Though you might not recognize his name, you’ll certainly recognize the music he wrote during a long and fascinating career. Some aficionados celebrated him for creating a new jazz sound. His music found its greatest popularity in cartoons. He came of age in the era of swing yet was a pioneer in electronic music. He was a bandleader, a pianist, a composer, an engineer, and an inventor. His name was Raymond Scott.

A Born Natural

Born Harry Warnow in Brooklyn, NY, on September 10, 1908, Scott lived a multi-dimensional life. His father owned a music shop where, at the age of five, Harry used to tinker around with a player-piano known as a Pianola. At first, he would just stretch his small hands over its keys, trying to keep up with the self-playing piano. One day, his parents discovered he had taught himself to play right along with its mechanical rhythm.

Raymond Scott
Photo: Public Domain

Harry also liked to fiddle around with some of the shop’s audio equipment, eventually setting up his own audio lab in the bedroom that he and his brother Mark shared. As the family lore tells it, he would often hang microphones out of the family’s third-story window, trying to record the conversations of the people passing by on the street below. Other times he would try to record the (apparently) terrible piano playing of his neighbors.

In his teens, he had ambitions of becoming an audio engineer; however, these plans were soon altered by his brother. Mark had already begun a promising career as a bandleader on CBS radio and, recognizing his younger brother’s musical talent, enrolled him at Julliard (then known as the Institute of Musical Art), paying his full tuition. When Harry graduated in 1931, Mark hired him as a staff pianist. Uncomfortable with what he thought might appear to be nepotism, Harry changed his name to Raymond Scott. 

Ray Forms His Own Quintette

In 1936, Scott decided to form his own band: the Raymond Scott Quintette. The band was an immediate hit, as Scott combined swing music with changes in tempo and peculiar syncopated beats. His compositions were referred to as “descriptive jazz.” 

The Raymond Scott Quintet playing “Steeplechase”
Photo: YouTube capture

The band put out meticulously crafted music that critics panned as “screwball” but the public loved. As it turns out, it also matched perfectly with the frenzied editing of Warner Bros.’ Looney Tunes cartoons — they would buy Scott’s music for their animations, and Scott soon became known as “the man who made cartoons swing.”

Moving Up to the Big Band

In 1942, Scott became bandleader of the Raymond Scott CBS Big Band. It was the first multiracial radio orchestra and featured some of the greatest players in jazz, including Ben Webster, Cozy Cole, and Charlie Shavers. The band was known for hard swing, Scott’s quirky, complex style, and improvisation.

Ray and his orchestra.
Photo courtesy discogs.com

Though he also served as music director for a variety of CBS programs, including Broadway Bandbox, Scott would leave the network in 1944 and start working with lyricist Bernie Hanighen, writing the music for Lute Song, a 1946 Broadway musical that starred Mary Martin and Yul Brynner.

In 1949, he returned to CBS after his brother passed away and took over his spot as orchestra leader for the popular “Your Hit Parade,” a position he would hold until 1957. He considered the job to be what he called “a rent gig,” using the money for what he called his real job — electronic music research.

Inventor and Electronic Music Pioneer

Scott also never gave up his pursuits as an audio engineer. In fact, even while he and his Quintette were in the recording studio, Scott spent more time in the control room than he did behind the microphone, mastering all he could about capturing and manipulating sound. 

Raymond Scott in his workshop, late 1950s.
Source: LA Times

In 1946, Scott founded Manhattan Research, a company that sold and serviced electronic musical equipment. This included an array of electronic music devices that Scott invented himself — most notably, the Clavivox (a keyboard sound synthesizer) and the Electronium (a self-composing synthesizer), both of which he used to create electronic compositions for television and radio commercials (like Stuckey’s jingles).  

During the late 1960s, Scott became somewhat of a recluse, always tinkering with his inventions in isolation, giving few interviews, making no public appearances. He recorded little new music — save for a few electronic music soundtracks he put together for some experimental films by a guy named Jim Henson (who would become the creator of The Muppets).

An advertisement for Ray’s Clavinox
Photo: Public Domain

Health and financial troubles plagued him in the ‘70s and ‘80s. He died in 1994. 

But his legacy as both a musician and inventor live on. A number of compilations of his music have been released since the 1990s. His music has been featured in popular TV shows, including episodes of The Simpsons and the 1990s animated comedy The Ren & Stimpy Show. And Mark Mothersbaugh (of the synth-pop rock band Devo) purchased Scott’s Electronium

Mark Mothersbaugh in front of Scott’s Electronium Photo: YouTube capture

Every Trip’s Still a Pleasure Trip…

And thanks to Scott, “every stop’s a pleasure stop” when you pull over at your nearest Stuckey’s location. Of course, once you’re inside you’ll find our world-famous Stuckey’s Pecan Log Rolls and other fine pecan candies

Who can resist our mouthwatering flavored pecans and popcorn? You can even let everyone know where you get your snacks by sporting our latest Stuckey’s branded t-shirts and hats while sipping on your favorite drink from one of our branded mugs.

Not going on the road? You can take a trip down the information superhighway to stuckeys.com and get Stuckey’s merchandise delivered right to your front door.

Every trip’s STILL a pleasure trip when you stop at Stuckey’s!
Illustration: Stuckey’s Corp.

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