Harvey Scales, ‘Milwaukee’s Godfather of Soul,’ writer of hit ‘Disco Lady,’ has died at 77

Harvey Scales was dubbed “Milwaukee’s Godfather of Soul.” And across a six-decade career, he lived up to the title.

The charismatic singer played swinging gigs with his band the Seven Sounds well into his seventies, including a Summerfest show as recently as 2017. He co-wrote the 1976 platinum hit “Disco Lady” for Johnnie Taylor, and had another hit, “Love-Itis,” covered by the J. Geils Band. He did work for legendary soul labels Chess Records and Stax Records, and was even sampled by the Beastie Boys.

Scales, 77, died Monday afternoon in a Milwaukee hospital, after first becoming ill in December with kidney failure and pneumonia.

Based in Atlanta, Scales was in Milwaukee for medical reasons, and was able to spend the last weeks of his life visiting with family and longtime friends, said his son, Harvey Scales Jr., who collaborated with his father, and carried on his musical tradition, as rapper JR Scalez.

Scales leaves behind 13 children and at least 40 grandchildren. Memorial services are pending at the moment.

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