John Larkin, a jazz pianist and songwriter who turned his lifelong stuttering problem into international acclaim as a scat singer, died Dec. 3 of lung cancer at his home in Los Angeles. He was 57.
A BMG recording artist known as “Scatman John,” Larkin sold eight million CDs and had two hit singles, “I’m the Scatman” and “Scatman’s World.” Overall he logged 14 gold and 18 platinum records.
In 1995, with the success of his debut album “Scatman’s World,” the 55- year-old musician received the “Artist of the Year” award in Japan, the Goldene Europa Award, the Echo Award in Europe, and an MTV Music Award for Best Male Artist.
He became a jazz buff at an early age and as a young man played piano in jazz clubs in the Los Angeles area. In 1984 he added scat singing to his act while entertaining on a cruise ship and, following gigs in Berlin and Norway, became a bestselling recording artist with hits in almost every country in the world.
He is survived by his wife, Judy (granddaughter of the late Eddie Cantor and the late Jimmy McHugh), her mother, and a brother.
Family suggests donations in Larkin’s name be made to the Scatland Foundation (which helps people who stutter), 9229 Sunset Blvd., Suite 505, Los Angeles, CA 90069.