Jackson C Frank – An unsung genius.

Jackson C Frank

I note that Jackson has a new box set of everything that he had recorded. There is also a book about him. Though I can only see that as a Kindle version so far. I am waiting until it comes out as a book.


I was lucky enough to be introduced to Jackson in 1965. A friend of mine by the name of Robert Ede played his album to me. I was smitten from the very first song.

Jackson played his ten songs with simple guitar backing in the contemporary Folk manner. The album was produced by Paul Simon before he hit the big time and featured Al Stewart on a few of the tracks as second guitar. What made it for me was the memorable melodies, the sad, thought provoking and interesting lyrics and Jackson’s voice.

I hadn’t heard anything like it before or since. Bert Jansch, John Renbourn and Roy Harper were just getting their acts together and the contemporary Folk scene, following Dylan’s success and Donovan’s British contribution, was about to inflate.

Jackson was a huge influence.

He only really ever had one album. During those years in the later sixties it was always rumoured that there was a second, but there wasn’t. It seemed that the songs had dried up.

I caught him at a pub in Ilford High Street in 1970. He was outstanding. He sang all the songs. Afterwards we stayed behind for a chat and he was warm and friendly. That was the last anyone heard of him. He was meant to go for a guest appearance at a Roy Harper concert at St Pancras but never turned up.

He was a tragic figure who hated the limelight following considerable scarring due to a fire at his high-school in Canada in which he was badly burnt.

He came across to England on the QE2 and wrote the songs for that notorious album. He performed at Les Cousins and Bunjies as a regular and set up with Sandy Denny. Roy Harper was a big friend and wrote the song ‘My Friend’ for Jackson.

In 1970 his life went to pieces. He got married, divorced, lived on the streets, had his eye shot out and died as a down and out. There were more recordings done in the early seventies and some early demos have been uncovered. But for me that early album is the nub of all that was good in that contemporary folk scene. He was seminal.

5 thoughts on “Jackson C Frank – An unsung genius.

  1. Haha good to see you knew about Jackson. Being a long-time Sandy Denny fan I was aware of the effects his suicide had on her life (they were lovers at the time, I believe). I had heard ‘Blues Run the Game’ when it first became popular, but was re-introduced to it by Counting Crows who have often performed it as one of their encore songs, particularly as the final closeout song.

    I then got hold of Frank’s album a couple of years ago, and as you say it is a masterpiece.

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