Scott sings a song to last your whole ride long - Singing cabbie says
he has enough tunes to croon you all the way to Heathrow
Published: September, 2013 by AMY SMITH
DRIVERS of black taxi cabs are renowned for their incessant chat as they hurtle through London’s side streets to short-cut their way to your destination while putting the world to rights.
But if Scott Neave picks you up it’s not the chat you’ll have to bother about. Scott, 38, who lives in Highbury, would rather sing you a song.
The self-styled singing taxi driver has been brightening up the lives of his fares for the past three months by treating them to an intimate gig.
“Instead of talking about politics and weather I sing and serenade,” he says. “I’ve done over 200 gigs in this taxi and every single one is different.”
The former 274 bus driver – he qualified as a cabbie 18 months ago – says he has enough songs in his repertoire to last all the way to Heathrow.
In a way, he’s a bit like a human iPod. He even sang to one group of girls who had asked him to switch the radio on.
Always wanting to be a singer, Scott entered X Factor a few years ago and made it though to the second untelevised round. He first sang in his cab when he was preparing for an open mic night.
“People are usually stressed but it has the feel-good factor,” he says of his unusual cabbie style. “I picked up a woman at King’s Cross and started singing. When I looked at her she was crying. I asked her ‘Are you ok?’ and she said ‘You have the most beautiful voice’ so I started to cry as well. It was really special.
“Sometimes people ask ‘How much is that gonna cost?’ and I have to explain that it’s for free.
“I make a bit of conversation first, ask them how their day is going. I ask ‘have you heard of the singing taxi driver?’ Then usually I ask what kind of music they’re into, there’s no point singing a rap version to elderly people.”
“It goes down really well on a Friday nights. It gets to a certain point when the bassline drops and I just flash the lights. People love it and start shouting and whooping. I got strong halogen lights and the effect is a lot like strobe lights.”
Scott admits he might lose his nerve if he had that Simon Cowell in the back of his cab. However it would be a different story if fellow X Factor judge Nicole Sherzinger got in the back. “Well, she’s a babe and has a great voice. I do like singing to the ladies.”
He once picked up a man in a pinstripe suit who turned down his offer of a song. “He said ‘No, it’s not really a man to man thing’. It's quite rare but did throw me off, I’m always careful with men in pinstripe suits now.”
Scott is accompanied by backing tracks he creates at home and plays on CD or his phone.
He asks the punter what kind of song they want, such as comedy song or love song. He also composes and produces his own songs. When he took the Tribune for a spin the song that came up was Cameo’s 1986 hit Word Up, but Scott’s own Garage version. And then his own composition, a lighthearted ditty The Bike Song inspired when his then girlfriend Donna had her bike stolen.
“I usually do a cover first and then if they prompt me for more I’ll do some originals,” he says.
“All my gigs are exclusive to the taxi, you won’t catch me in night clubs. I do six or seven gigs a day in the taxi. Who else can say they have done a gig in Hammersmith, Earls Court and Camden all in one day?”
His favourite routes to serenade fares are the West End and Camden because of the range of people he gets on the back seat. I offer to sing for every passenger.
“I take safety very seriously, I would never put anyone in jeopardy. I tend to do it in traffic and then the cab is stationary and they can hear me better,” he adds.
“It’s a lifetime’s work if I’m honest. I’m just hoping that one day the right person will get in the back.”