By Ashley Zimmerman
By Dana Krangel
By John Hood
By Ashley Zimmerman
By David Von Bader
By Sayre Berman
By Steve Brennan
By Ashley Zimmerman
Scott's brother, Matthew, who is older by 22 months, is his musical opposite: an alt-rocker who has supported his music by delivering pizzas.
So it was no surprise that Scott "took to music like a duck to water," as Yolanda puts it, playing Rod Stewart piano renditions at Davie's Nova Eisenhower Elementary talent shows, nailing John Travolta's role in a school production of Grease, and hitting the big stage with Matthew at the Sunrise Musical Theatre as the Storch Brothers. Scott caressed the ivories while his brother belted out glam-rock hits.
For Scott's first paying gig, he filled in for an adult piano player at a birthday party on the beach. He was 12. "He had a natural talent, and he practiced hard," Uncle Jeremy says. "He was very devoted to the piano."
Scott spent hours on the keyboard in the bedroom he shared with Matthew in their small Sunrise apartment. His parents had divorced when he was 10, and Yolanda made ends meet as a caregiver for the elderly. His father, Phil, lived in Miami with a new wife, his third.
Clearly, Scott did not dodge his father's genes. Dad was a gambler with a special affinity for the harness races at Pompano Park, according to Yolanda. He sifted through vehicles based on his luck: From Porsches to Lincolns to Jensen Healeys, he bought "30 cars in the 13 years we were married," she says.
Phil liked to bring Scott with him to the dealerships, and the fascination with flash and automobiles rubbed off. The kid spent his time in class drafting ornate sketches of Cadillacs. At 13, he wore a red bomber jacket, Porsche Carrera sunglasses, and a $75 Rolex knockoff — bar mitzvah gifts from Mom, all of which he quickly lost.
Says Yolanda: "Phil wasn't there for Scott through most of his childhood, and I think Scott really wanted to follow in his footsteps and impress him."
Phil eventually filed for bankruptcy twice, in 1997 and 2008. Among the jilted creditors were credit card companies and the Mercedes-Benz and Toyota financing wings. Reached at his home in Springfield, Missouri, Phil told New Times he was "not interested in talking to newspapers."
In 1988, Dad moved to Philadelphia. Scott, in his freshman year of high school, decided to go with him. Yolanda had a new boyfriend, and Scott wasn't looking for a stepfather. "I could have legally stopped him from going, but I didn't," Yolanda says, sounding regretful. "Much later, Scott told me: 'Ma, the only reason I left is that I hated your boyfriend.' "
"Scott felt like his mom had chosen a man over him," says Vanessa Bedillo, who had a son with Scott in Philadelphia. "That's something that really hurt him and probably still does."
One morning in the middle of the '88 school year at southeast Pennsylvania's Bensalem High, freshman Vanessa Bedillo watched a new boy pull his father's Porsche up to the brown-brick school building. The Florida kid dressed like a miniature Don Johnson and wore a preppy mop of reddish-brown hair over thin, bird-boned features. "All the girls were like, Who is this guy?" recalls Bedillo, who was the pretty, strait-laced daughter of strict Peruvian parents. "He seemed beyond his years."
Scott Storch was her first boyfriend. He spent the rest of that school year drawing her sketches of cars and gazing out the window, daydreaming about music. After school, he would play her Tears for Fears songs on his piano, which his mom had shipped from Florida.
"Scott was pretty much on his own," Bedillo says. His dad's parenting consisted mostly of a wad of bills left on the kitchen counter. Eventually, Phil Storch left his son altogether, moving to New York City.
Scott never returned to school his sophomore year. Bedillo ran into him on a city street and learned he was playing piano in an upscale Italian joint and working on the side in a local music studio. They rekindled their relationship. "I knew this guy was trouble," Bedillo says, "but I just couldn't stay away."
At 17, Bedillo became pregnant with Scott's baby. Her Catholic father, a GM autoworker, reacted as if there had been a death in the family.
Scott didn't show up for the birth of their son, named Steven. And he was "MIA after that," Vanessa says. "He was scared. I always wondered what might have been if he had parents like mine, who would have forced him to do the right thing."
Vanessa dropped out of high school after her junior year to care for the baby. An aspiring actress, she gave up that dream in exchange for a succession of dull jobs. It would be 12 years before she would see Scott again.
In 1992, a young music scout named Derek Jackson was at a North Philly block party when a strange group took the stage. They called themselves the Square Roots, and they played acoustic hip-hop. "You had this big, heavyset Afro-wearing kid on the drums, an old rapper, a really young rapper, and then this little white guy on the keyboard," Jackson describes, laughing. "But once they started to play, it was mesmerizing."