Like a first crush or a first car, Joe Scott never forgot his first bass guitar, an Ovation Typhoon II.
He bought it in 1969 as a high schooler, played it in bands with his high school friends and took it with him when he started school at the University of Minnesota.
Between studies, he played music gigs as often as he could. He loved that bass. So it was a real blow when someone stole it shortly after playing a fraternity/sorority gig on campus.
As much as Scott loved music, he was practical and majored in economics and Spanish, to ensure, Scott said wryly, that he could make some money.
His business career took him from selling computers to selling software, doing marketing and then consulting.
Scott, who lives in Chaska, is a former Chanhassen resident. His former public relations/marketing business Scott & Associates was based in Chanhassen for 25 years and he’s a member of the Chanhassen Rotary.
Throughout his professional business career, he kept up with his musical pursuits, playing with a variety of groups in the Twin Cities.
Years passed, and despite collecting other guitars, he couldn’t forget his first, that bass guitar he named Ophelia, one of the first typhoon names retired by the Japanese Meteorological Agency.
With the advent of the internet in the 1990s, Scott began looking online for a replica of that Ovation Typhoon II. While he knew that the chances of finding his original were slim, he loved the memories associated with that bass guitar, and the friendships that came from playing music with others who shared his passion.
While his Ovation Typhoon was his first love, Scott’s first instrument was a soprano ukulele.
“My dad had given me a ukulele to play when I was in junior high,” Scott said, “and I’d just bought Herb Alpert’s ‘Taste of Honey’ album. I was listening to one of the songs that had this nice, really cool bass line and I’m playing this bass line on the soprano ukulele. My dad comes into the living room, listens for a minute and then he goes, ‘I don’t know man, I think we need to get you a bass guitar.’”
Coming from a musical family, it was no surprise his dad could sympathize. Scott’s dad played baritone ukulele and still had his original one from college days, held together with strapping tape. His mom played violin and piano; his grandmother played piano and guitar.
His dad took him to a music store in St. Louis Park where Scott found the Ovation Typhoon II bass.
“I really liked Glen Campbell at the time,” Scott remembered, “and the Partridge Family, because the bass players on these two shows had Ovations. I thought the bass player on Glen Campbell and this kid who played Danny Partridge, who was my age, were totally cool people.
“The only issue was that the bass cost $350,” Scott said. “So my dad said, ‘If you can come up with $175, I’ll come up with the other $175.’”
It would be a challenge as Scott recalled his allowance at the time was 25 cents a week.
But now he was motivated and spent the next year shoveling snow and mowing lawns.
“When I finally came up with the money, I went back and it was still there. So I bought it and then literally, within minutes of bringing it home, I got a call from one of my buddies who said, ‘Hey, I understand you play bass. We’re starting a band. First rehearsal is next week.’”
The University of Minnesota used to host an annual event called Campus Carnival. It was a fundraiser organized by the University’s Greek system. One of the events was a battle of the student bands. Scott and his group of musician friends formed a group to compete.
“Our band was so good,” Scott recalled. “There were a number of us who were professional musicians and we had the state champion sax player from the University of Wisconsin, my brother, who was first chair at high school.
“At the award ceremony, they’re calling off the winners in order. When they announced second place we were excited. We were going to win first place. But they called another group. We were dumbfounded. I went up to the judges and said, ‘I’m not a sore loser, but I’d like to understand how you picked the other band.’
“They said, ‘You guys weren’t really playing. You were doing ‘Get Away,’ by Earth Wind and Fire, and there’s no way you guys were playing that. You guys were lip syncing.’
“No, we actually played,” Scott argued. “And then someone from another fraternity showed up and said, ‘I was over there and heard them practice. They were actually playing.’”
While the results weren’t changed, and there was no actual prize other than bragging rights, Scott still remembered the excitement of their performance.
“And then I couldn’t find my bass. Someone stole it after the gig” Scott said. “I still get kind of emotional about it now. I couldn’t believe it. It was just terrible.”
So Scott switched over to playing his 12-string guitar and used it for gigs throughout the rest of college. He used to play at the Cafe Extempore in Minneapolis.
“I don’t even know how I got to play there, everyone was so insanely good,” Scott said. “It was really fun, going to school and playing guitar.” And occasionally, he’d be called to fill in for an opening act.
One day he got a panicked call from the Cafe Extempore’s booker. He needed someone to open for a couple guys that night. Scott figured it would be some of the well-known West Bank musicians like Dakota Dave Hull or Lonnie Knight or Sean Blackburn, all whom he knew.
“So I’m down there, waiting outside the Green Room, and I hear a bottleneck slide and classical guitar coming from in there. I couldn’t believe it. It was my two idols, Leo Kottke and Michael Johnson. I was going to open for them. I was terrified. I opened up the curtains and looked in.
“Hi, I’m Leo.”
“I’m Michael. Hey man, come in here.”
“They couldn’t have been nicer,” Scott said. “And it was the biggest crowd I ever played. And here’s this kid scared out of his wits.”
Scott also worked as a bartender at the Hippogriff, a popular Twin Cities nightclub in the 1970s, located in St. Louis Park. He tended the bar closest to the stage and befriended a bass player with whom he’d occasionally jam.
One day, the bass player invited Scott to come to a downtown Minneapolis recording studio.
“We showed up at 2 a.m. We go downstairs where there’s a big stage and a band playing (Chicago’s) ‘25 or 6 to 4.’ There’s a musician whose rotating between all the instruments: Trombone, trumpet, bass, keyboards, guitar, and he’s got this gorilla mask on. He played drums, then the lead solo, then took his mask off.
“I didn’t know who the heck he was, but I was just blown away by this guy, so I walked over to him and said, ‘Man, you are really good.’
“He goes, ‘Oh. Well, thank you,’ and I was like, “No man, you played all the instruments. What the hell! You’re really good. Who are you?’”
He goes, “I’m Prince Nelson.”
With the birth of the internet, Scott began looking for a replica of his Ovation Typhoon II bass just because he thought it would be cool to have it. So that went on sporadically for several decades.
“About three weeks ago on a Tuesday morning around 3 a.m., I couldn’t sleep so I thought I’d go online and see if I could find one of those basses.
“I see a picture of one and I go, ‘Holy cow, and then I look closer. It’s at LaVonne Music in Savage.”
Tuesdays happen to be the day he babysits his 7-month-old grandson Leo, so he packed up the baby as soon as he could and they took off for Savage.
“I walk in and I see the bass in the corner,” Scott said. He walked over. “Wow, this is exactly how I remember it. But I had a weird thought. ‘Man, I wonder if this is my bass? I was a little bit afraid. Maybe it’s not my bass. Maybe it is. Am I going to be really disappointed if it isn’t my bass? Am I going to just be like bawling if it is?
“And then I saw the case, the original case.
“I have Leo in one arm, I have the guitar in the other. I turned the thing over, and there’s the number 2 on the back. (The manufacturer had stamped a “2” on the headstock to indicate it was a second.) And I remember my guitar had this really unusual grain on the neck.
“This is my frickin’ bass.”
Scott took the guitar up to the counter and said, “I’m going to buy this bass. And I’m going to tell you a story.”
If only the bass could talk. If it is indeed Scott’s bass, the years between 1974 and 2005 are a mystery as to who had it and where it was played.
According to Rachel Seavey, manager at LaVonne Music, the previous owner bought the bass on eBay in 2005 and brought it in recently to be sold. As for the “2” imprint on the back of the neck, Seavey said, “It’s possible that Ovation marked it as a second if it had some sort of blemish that just affected its look and not its playability.
“Of course, if it were a second,” Seavey considered, “it means that the pool of those guitars would be even smaller. So it’s possible. It might be his original. I mean, why not? It’s a feel-good story.”
The original price was $350 in 1969; in 2019, Scott paid $1,000.
“I almost didn’t want to look at it when I saw it in the store,” Scott said. “ I didn’t want to grab it, but then, I thought, it doesn’t matter. Whether it’s mine or not, it’s like the bass that I had. I spent literally months of my life playing this thing. I’d come home from school and just play. And it still plays fantastic.”
Lynn Livingston is certain there were angels watching over her on Sunday, Dec. 22.
Thank goodness, she waited to swap out a load of laundry. Thank goodness she waited to see the end of the celebrity singing show, “The Masked Singer.” Otherwise, she might not be here today.
On the evening of Dec. 22, Livingston’s home on Pima Lane, Chanhassen, was destroyed by a fire. A preliminary review by Chanhassen Fire Marshall Don Nutter indicates that the fire started in the basement laundry room area, but the source of the fire remains under investigation.
An explosion Livingston heard after smelling the smoke was from an aerosol can that blew up in the heat.
“The bottom came off and any number of scenarios could have happened if I’d been down there,” Livingston said. “I had some angels watching out for me.”
She believes those angels are her mother, who died in August, and her beloved dog Jhing-Jhing, who died just days before the fire.
“She was my everything,” Livingston said, of Jhing-Jhing. “She went everywhere she was allowed with me, even church. I have a photo of the two of them when my mother was in the hospital — Jhing-Jhing resting her head on my mother’s hand.”
Livingston had been out most of the day that Sunday. Upon her return, she headed to the basement, turned on the light and threw in a load of laundry. Upstairs, she wrapped presents and watched her TV show. That’s when she noticed a hissing sound coming from downstairs, then a loud explosion that lifted the floor. She grabbed her phone and ran outside. As she did, she could see flames coming from downstairs. It was a good thing Jhing-Jhing wasn’t here by then, Livingston said. “Otherwise I might have tried looking for her and gotten trapped inside.”
Livingston’s home is a fourplex. Firefighters were able to contain the fire to only her unit, which is a total loss. Her insurance company has since relocated her to a hotel in Bloomington for the time being. Last Friday, between appointments with her insurance provider and home repair professionals, Livingston talked about what’s next.
“It’s get repaired, rebuilt and go from there,” Livingston said. She’s lived in the fourplex since 1996. She has taught for 30 years at Especially for Children preschool at 6223 Dell Road, Eden Prairie. Her employer has given her the last two weeks of December off with pay, so she can begin to take care of all the details involved with her insurance company, arranging for repairs to her townhome, and “to get my wits around me.”
“After my mother died and after Jhing-Jhing, now it’s just me and my sister, and I don’t have anything left of my own,” she said. “I’m worried about my lodging dollars and will it be enough to last me while my house gets rebuilt?
“Of course, a lot of my stuff doesn’t need to be replaced. I just need a table and a chair, a bed to sleep in and a computer, and I’m good.”
Her co-workers and the families of the countless children she’s cared for at the preschool have come together to provide support as well. And then there was the publicity.
“A friend called me and said, ‘Now don’t get upset, but I called the news stations,’ Livingston said. “I started getting phone calls from KARE 11 and Channel 5.”
The outpouring of comfort and support has been a godsend for Livingston. And possibly a jumpstart to a new chapter.
“Now that everything’s gone, I realize I’m not alone,” Livingston said. “Since this happened, I’ve been hearing from the moms and dads and the kids. I got a $40 donation from a former student who’s a third-grader. I bet it was from his piggy bank. To hear from people I’ve taught, to hear from people whose kids I’ve taught. It fills your heart like you won’t believe.”