Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada back in 1955, Scott Smith first achieved fame as a founding member and bassist of the Canadian band Loverboy. Formed in 1979 the band already managed to release their successful self-titled debut one year later, which had two hits: “The Kid Is Hot Tonite” and “Turn Me Loose”.
Their success continued with the release of their second album “Get Lucky”, which also had hits like “Working for The Weekend” and “When It’s Over”. They still released seven more albums and they have sold an estimated amount of more than 20 million records worldwide.
Besides dealing with pressure and fame, the band members also had to deal with a tragedy that happened in 2000 with their original bassist Scott Smith.
The tragic death of Loverboy’s bassist Scott Smith
It was November 30, 2000 when Scott Smith decided to go out on his boat called Sea Major, which was 11 meters long (about 37 feet). He was accompanied by his fiancée Yvonne Mayotte and his friend Bill Ellis. When they were sailing off the coast of San Francisco near the Golden Gate Bridge, taking the boat to a marina in Southern California a large wave (25 foot) swept Smith overboard.
It was reported by MTV that Smith was wearing two sweaters and a pair of track pants, but wasn’t using a life jacket. Ellis immediately started to throw flotation materials overboard to try to see if could help Smith somehow.
The Coast Guard conducted several searches about four miles off San Francisco’s Ocean Beach. The family also hired a private company to help but the musician was never found. The 45 year-old musician was then presumed dead, being lost at sea. He lived in Maple Ridge, British Columbia and had two sons.
His friend and her fiancée were unharmed
Mayotte and Ellis were unharmed and both were below deck when the tragedy happened. In an interview with Ottawa Citizen, Yvonne Mayotte who had to be treated for hypothermia later said: “I went down below to change into my foul weather gear so I could relieve Scott. Then the wave hit and the boat went over on its side.”
His friend Bill Ellis said that Scott even took the wheel of the boat with him. ““Within seconds I went back up and Scott was gone and he took the wheel with him. We turned back around but couldn’t find any of the debris or cushions or the man-overboard pole”. It took 10 minutes for the Coast Guard to arrive and 20 minutes for the helicopters to give them the support to search for Smith. They searched a 133-square-mile area for two days.
He was an experienced sailor and had owned similar boats to the “Sea Major” before. His final concert with Loverboy happened on November 25, only five days before the tragedy. The group performed in Vancouver at a benefit concert to raise money for a local diabetes foundation.
Loverboy paid tribute to Scott with the song “Stranded”
Smith’s final album with Loverboy was “Six” released in 1997 and it took the band 10 years to finally record a new album after the tragedy. Called “Just Getting Started” and released in 2007, the album had a song called “Stranded”, which was a tribute to Smith. The vocalist Mike Reno recalled that in an interview with Adlercast in 2009 (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage). The track is currently not available on streaming platforms.
“‘Stranded’ was the song that kinda broke my writer’s block. I had to write a song to get going again and I had to write it about Scott who not only was Loverboy’s bassist, but he was my best friend. Best friends don’t come very easily or very often.”
Mike Reno continued:
“Sometimes you’re gonna get a best friend once in your whole life. Now I look back on it and I feel lucky to have known him for 20 odd years even though he’s gone. I wrote that song about how I felt stranded, alone here without my best friend. I wrote it about how painful it is, how painful it was for me and still is. Everyday I think about him. Songwriting is like poking yourself in the eye with a pen. Because it hurts but you gotta do it, because that’s what you do.”
“(…) When you lose somebody you don’t realize what you had until they’re actually gone. Then it hurts so bad that you can’t hardly believe what’s happening. You can’t breathe, you can’t sleep, it’s just like all-consuming. That kind of pain isn’t good but it’s necessary to feel it and understand what it is. Since we’ve written that particular song people have come to us and said ‘Man, that’s who I felt when my dad died, my mom died. Or my best friend from school. It’s a real song that people can relate to. That’s what it’s all about in my book, to write songs that are real,” Mike Reno said.
The band’s touching message about Scott
There is a special page from Loverboy’s official website that is dedicated to the memory of Scott Smith. The official statement from the band recalls how much they miss him and how important he was for the group.
“It is never supposed to happen to you… At least that is how the saying goes. However on November 30, 2000 it did happen to us, all of us. We lost our great friend and band-mate Scott Smith in a terrible boating accident. It is still hard to believe. He was a great father, musician and an irreplaceable friend to all of us. We all deeply miss Scott. More than words can say.”
“Scott was our ‘word-Smith.’ When it came to liner notes for albums. It was he who always came up with a witty and entertaining anecdote for all the things we had done.”
“He had a way of seeing all of us with a sense of humour that sometimes escapes a group of guys that have been together for so many years. Scott was a major part of Loverboy and proud of the band. Scott always spread a little happiness to all who knew him and he is deeply loved and missed by his family and friends,’ the band said