Riotous poet Jock Scot’s inspirational life is remembered

Poet Jock Scott. Picture: Ken Dundas

Poet Jock Scott. Picture: Ken Dundas

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HE inspired and worked with some of the UK’s most iconic cultural figures – from Irvine Welsh and Joe Strummer to Ian Dury and the Blockheads.

Jock Scot – born John Leslie in Leith in 1952 – died in April following a 20-month battle with cancer in which he refused chemotherapy.

This was despite initially being told he could have as little as 100 days to live.

It was the final defiant act in a riotous, rock ‘n’ roll life that saw him transcend his modest beginnings in Edinburgh to become one of the UK’s most admired performance poets.

And now his family and friends are arranging a celebration of his life and career.

Sister Faye Leslie, who described her brother as “brilliant but eccentric”, said the event would be open to “everybody who loved Jock”.

She said: “We are having music and stories. Everybody has to bring a story and a photograph – and if they can’t tell the story, they can write it down.

“We are going to make it into a book for Iris [Jock’s seven-year-old daughter].”

Jock – who released only one written collection of his poetry, called Where is My Heroine?, and two spoken-word albums – made his name as a powerful live performer in the 1980s, and frequently opened shows for acts such as the Libertines, Ian Dury and Elvis Costello.

He worked with The Clash, Blondie and Talking Heads, and was listed by Irvine Welsh as one of his all-time heroes.

One of seven children, he grew up on an estate near Musselburgh Racecourse after a brief period living on Easter Road, and retained a lifelong love of both horse-racing and Hibs.

Before moving to London, he worked briefly in the Abbotsford bar and Craigmillar Library, where he would spin his favourite records while reading.

No stranger to drink and drugs – including a period of heroin addiction – he nevertheless developed a commanding stage presence and was said to be able to silence even the rowdiest of crowds with a choice phrase or unexpected pause.

Jock died aged 63 and is survived by his wife, Helen Montgomery, and their daughter Iris, as well as two more daughters, Tara and Poppy, from earlier relationships.

The tribute event at Leith Dockers Club will take place this Friday, from 6pm to 11pm.

alistair.grant@jpress.co.uk