Former Ballard-Hudson band teacher Scott honored

Friends, family and former students of Ballard-Hudson High School band teacher Robert Scott gathered at the Douglass Theatre on Sunday night to pay tribute to him.

Scott, who taught students who earned regional and national musical fame during the 1960s, was a band teacher at Ballard-Hudson from 1956 until 1970, when Bibb schools integrated. He continued teaching music in Bibb County until retiring in 1987.

During the tribute, which featured music from a five-piece jazz band and accolades from members of the audience, more chairs were pulled out to accommodate more than 60 people who attended.

“So many guys studied under him ... it’s time to tell him thank you, really,” said Jimmy Mills Jr., a former student of Scott’s at Ballard-Hudson.

At the tribute, Mills, playing flugelhorn in the band, described having to make the most of their few resources while playing at Ballard-Hudson.

“You really had to work with the sound,” said Mills, who graduated from the school in 1958.

As the band played, Scott kept rhythm by tapping his fingers on the table. “I’m very honored,” Scott said. “It was quite a surprise ... any teacher is proud of his students.”

Another one of Scott’s former students, Newton Collier, once played trumpet with soul duo Sam & Dave — famous for their hit “Soul Man.” Collier, who was not able to attend the tribute concert, said he learned important skills from Scott, from reading music and learning theory, as well as writing and transposing charts.

“He taught me what I needed to survive on the road to becoming a musician,” said Collier, a 1963 graduate of Ballard-Hudson.

Collier got his start playing in Macon night clubs in high school. He went on to perform with Otis Redding during his freshman year at Morris Brown College until spending a decade playing with Sam & Dave.

Scott’s leadership, paired with the active music scene in Macon at the time — in the era of Redding and Little Richard — combined to contribute to the success of Scott’s students, Collier said.

“We had a strong teacher like Robert Scott teaching us what we needed to know to do during those shows,” Collier said. “Without that, you wouldn’t have that strong music system.”

Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact writer Andrea Castillo, call 256-9751.