Frightened Rabbit's Scott Hutchison 'wrote the words many felt but could not say'

Scott Hutchison

credit: Ryan McGoverne

Scottish singer-songwriter's death felt far and wide within the music and arts community

The news of Scott Hutchison's passing is devastating. It is a hammer blow for the music community in Scotland and will be felt profoundly the world over, as those who had been touched by Frightened Rabbit's music and Scott's gift as a songwriter of extraordinary talent come to terms with their loss. The sadness felt by his family, and close friends is impossible to imagine.

At 36 years old Scott had so much more to give. Frightened Rabbit were working on a sixth album that he'd said could be finished by the end of the year. He'd recently released the first Mastersystem record, Dance Music, was a much loved member of the spoken word collective Neu! Reekie!, releasing a solo album in 2014 under the moniker Owl John.

His songs did that most wonderful thing – they brought people together; countless friendships were formed in schools, student halls, pubs, at sweaty gig venues, as music lovers discussed the band's seminal album The Midnight Organ Fight. Hundreds of broken hearts were consoled by its raw power. It's a bleak record, yes, but one full of dark humour – the kind that you can't get through a break up without – and a musical journey that ends with it's protagonist embracing the road ahead, with all the challenges it may present. A glimmer of light in a dark place. The recent 10-year anniversary tour of The Midnight Organ Fight was a timely reminder of its cathartic powers.

Frightened Rabbit began in 2003 as a solo project. In an interview with Spin back in 2010, Scott discussed the choice of name, saying 'I thought of Frightened Rabbit because it was a nickname given to me by my mum when I was younger. I was incredibly shy as a child, almost chronically so'. Having studied at Glasgow School of Art for four years, it gave an endlessly creative man another outlet for his work, another voice – one that would grow from humble beginnings to reach millions.

That Frightened Rabbit would go on to headline festivals wasn't always obvious. Enlisting first the help of brother Grant on drums, as well as multi-instrumentalist Billy Kennedy, the charmingly low budget, high-energy debut album Sing The Greys was released as a limited 1000 copy run by Glasgow-based indie label Hits The Fan back in 2006. Word got around that this was a special talent – the first run of that record quickly sold out.

Frightened Rabbit's Scott Hutchison 'wrote the words many felt but could not say'

A decade on, following the release of fifth album Painting of a Panic Attack in 2016, the band were a different proposition altogether, having grown from headlining 100 capacity venues like The Captains Rest to selling out three nights at the Barrowlands. The witty wordplay of those early releases remained but was now paired with the type of anthemic choruses destined to be sung by thousands. For a shy boy, Hutchison was a natural entertainer on both the biggest and smallest of stages. In his element conducting thousands at Scotland's most beloved venue, hysterically funny playing an intimate charity show shortly before Christmas, in the living room of a Dennistoun flat.

Those who were lucky to meet Scott Hutchison speak of his kindness, his benevolence, his humility. He was hugely supportive of up and coming bands and artists, willing to offer advice and encouragement. He wrote letters of support to fans who were having a tough time, offering a helping hand and a psychological boost. Despite his own well documented struggles with mental health, he seemed determined to – as the chorus to 'Head Rolls Off' goes – make tiny changes to earth. He succeeded, and touched many lives in big way.

The band have released a statement, saying: 'There are no words to describe the overwhelming sadness and pain that comes with the death of our beloved Scott, but to know he is no longer suffering brings us some comfort.

'Reading messages of support and hope from those he has helped through his art has helped immensely and we encourage you all to continue doing this. He will be missed by all of us and his absence will always be felt but he leaves a legacy of hope, kindness and colour that will forever be remembered and shared.'

For many, Scott Hutchison was the singer in their favourite band, the man who wrote the words they could not, about the things they felt but could not say, who forged an intimate connection with those who heard his music without meeting them. He was also a beloved son, brother, uncle and dear friend to many and his loss is unspeakably sad. Our thoughts and love go out to all affected by his passing.

If you need help or know someone who might, please consider contacting the Samaritans (@samaritans, 116 123). We'de also like to highlight the following organisations: Help Musicians (@HelpMusiciansUK) and Music Minds Matter (0808 802 8008).

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