Jackson C. Frank
1943 - 1999
Sadly, Jackson died on March 3rd 1999.
If anyone has memories of meeting him
please send them to me and I will post them here.
If you want to add or remove material here then please
I was born two months before the Cleveland Hill fire. We lived in the
Kensington Village apartments in Cheektowaga. One of the neighbors in our
building was a boy named Jackie Frank.
Although I was not yet three years old when we left Cheektowaga for
Tonawanda, I still remember Jackie, and his spread, stiff-legged gait, "because
of the fire." I must have heard a lot of talk about that horrible tragedy,
because it still seems deeply rooted in my psyche. After the move, our
mothers stayed in touch for a few years, and then we lost contact. I never
heard another word about him until your review, which led me to do some
internet research on the fire and Jackson C. Frank. There were tears.
A bit of related trivia: Kirk Douglas came to our building to visit
Jackie after he was home from the hospital. I was just a baby, but my older
sister met him, and (legend has it) sat in his lap.
April 5 2011
As for a CD, there isn't much left to
release that is worth anything. A few old scratchy records of imitation
Elvis, some lousy home recordings from 1965 recorded by Judith Piepe, a
college radio track and one real treasure--a song written for Art
Garfunkel, [ Juliette ] that Jackson made a demo of but that never got recorded by AG.
That one might be the best song Jackson ever wrote, and I am keeping that
one for myself.
June 16 2009
ONE EVENING IN THE EVENTFUL month of June '67, I went to hear Sandy Denny at
Les Cousins in Soho. I still wasn't convinced: she insisted on performing songs
by her American ex-boyfriend Jackson C. Frank and other undistinguished singer-songwriters.
In the early 1970s, I was living in Woodstock, NY. I had a had rented a
house, and Jackson lived in the house with me and another person. Before I rented
the house, I shared a room with Jackson in Joan's boarding house also on Tinker
Street. We used to stay up all right listening to music and write, it was a
great time. When I rented the house, Jackson rented a room in the hosue. But
soon he ran out of money, and then slept in the living room. Finally, I told him
to leave. Soon, I remember this like it was yesterday, I saw him on the
street during a snowstorm, his beard covered in snow and ice, he was standing up
against a building trying to protect himself from the cold wind. It was so sad.
I of course allowed him to return to the house and live there for free for the
rest of the winter. Then I moved from Woodstock to New York City and never
saw him again. But I have often wondered what happened to Jackson.
Jackson was a tormented man, as, at the time, I was. I had come back from
Vietnam disabled, and was bitter. Jackson and I had something in common, we had
both survived a horror, but the legacy continued to give us great pain. He was
a good man and I am sad to hear he is gone.
Am playing this Jackson tape and thought I'd send you my bit of
I was introduced to Jackson in 65 while i was at school. My friend
Robert Ede had the album and I was knocked out by it. This was when I
was sixteen and considered myself pretty weird and cool. I was also
getting into Bert Jansch, John Renbourn but had not yet discovered
Roy Harper and co. I immediately bought the album and still have it -
a bit nackered.
When i went off to Barking college in 68 to spend three years having
a great time in London catching hundreds of gigs and rarely eating I
met up with Pete Smith. We sampled everything on offer from Harper to
Strawbs to Hendrix and Floyd. On the way we saw Jackson play at the
room above the Angel pub in the High Street in Ilford. I believe it
was in 69. There were about fifty people there and we sat at a table
at the front and clapped loudly after each song. Afterwards we stayed
and had a long talk with Jackson. He was looking a bit unkempt and
rough but sang and played beautifully. I don't remember him doing
anything other than stuff off the album. He was an incredibly warm
and friendly guy and was easy to talk to. He was extremely shy and
appreciative of our encouragement which was strange for someone who
was so extraordinarily good. He was with a tall thin guy with long
dark hair and a big hat. He was due to play a guest appearance at Roy
Harper's big gig at St Pancreas a couple of weeks later. I'd already
talked to Roy about this and I mentioned it to Jackson. He was really
keen and looking forward to it. I looked out for him at the Harper
gig but he never showed up. I saw his friend there and he told me
Jackson was ill. I never saw him again. Occasionally I noticed his
name was used in the NME sample print adverts but he never gigged
again. He disappeared forever.
A lovely guy. Great songs. A great loss. There should have been
another 30 albums and a million gigs.
I found your website this evening following a conversation with friends
about music experiences from the 60's. The most significant experiences
for me happened around Les Cousins in 1966 and it was there that I first
heard Jackson.C.Frank. I heard saw him perform many times over the next
few years. Sometime in early 1969, Jackson did an evening gig at some
south London college and I met him in the foyer afterwards waiting for a
taxi. He was singing at Les Cousins later the same night so I was able
to give him a lift and spend some time talking with him at the club. He
was a lovely man, open and friendly and a songwriter and singer of great
talent. I am privileged to have heard him sing and to have spent a
little time with him. Thank you for your website.
I used to be a regular visitor to Les Cousins. I remember coming up by train
from Southend on sea on Saturday evening and being torn whether to see an
all star Folk Concert at The Royal Festival Hall or going to Les Cousins to see
Carthy and Swarbrick. Fortunately I went to The Festival Hall, mainly to see
Joni Mitchell. It was basically a platform as I remember to help promote Al
Stewart after releasing Love Chronicles. I think there were others including
The Johnsons? Not sure.
The concert was turned on its head by the appearance of Jackson. I'd never
heard of the guy up 'til then but from that fateful night onwards on he made a
huge impact on my music. He was 'awesome'. The guy was absolutely stunning.
His songs were utterally brilliant, yet to me at that time I knew nothing
After the concert I walked up to Cousins hoping to catch the end of The
Carthy and Swarbrick set and to my amazent who was there at the bottom of the
steps but the great man himself. On passing him I congratulated him on his
remarkable performance. He was genuinely humbled at such comments. Hell, he
deserved them to say the least.
Following morning I remember picking up my dads Daily Telegraph to read a
rave revue of Jackson's appearance the previous evening. A compliment indeed
from that paper at the time.
Yeah, I've still got my original Colombia vinyl release of his first album
and no. it's not for sale. It's still gets played and is treasured.
Jack may no longer be around but his musical influences live on.
I was in London/Richmond/Soho during 65/66.
One evening I was performing playing blues at Les Cousins. Al Stewart
was also playing that night - and after my set I was approached by
the legendary Judith Piepe approached me and asked me to move in with
her, Paul Simon, Al Stewart - and Jackson C Frank. For reasons that
now escape me I said 'No' - I must have been mad. This was before the
album but after Bert and John had started singing 'Blues Run the Game'.
I used to hang around Potters Music Shop at the bottom of Richmond
Hill where Jackson used to trade guitars. One of my friends bought
one of his Martins.
I remember a particular night at Maria Grey College in St Margarets.
The star performer was Tom Paxton and I found myself standing next to
Jackson in a very crowded room. I was struck by the severity of his
scars - and suddenly he turned to me and said that he just had to get
out - NOW.
It seemed to me at the time that he was claustrophobic - at the time
I put it down to the effect of the fire.
This was a golden time .... Jackson , Paul Simon, Bert, John,
Beverley ( who went on to marry John Martyn), Spider John Koerner,
Elyse Weinberg ................ and on the other side of the electric
divide Eric Clapton.
I met Jackson C. Frank in London in the winter and spring of 65/66.
He appeared several times in a small folk-club that I went to regularly =
(almost lived there in fact) called "Les Cousins" in Greek Street in =
Many people used to play there - Bert and John of course, and another =
interesting American called Sandy Bull - and also Jackson C. Frank.
The small smoke-filled basement-club was stuffed with people and =
although people were chatting a lot they became silent the moment =
Jackson came on.
We could all feel his power and intensity when he played.
Of course his "Catch a boat to England baby..." was very popular but =
also "Just like anything - to sing - is a state of mind" was a great hit =
with all of us. I loved him alot. We all knew he was having some =
troubles at home also and were sad when he had to go back.
I still have his first LP - great songs still.
Can't remember what year it was. Probably 1967. I'd come down to London
fresh from the folk clubs of the North and was busking one Saturday with a
friend in the tunnel to Tottenham Court Road tube station. After the theatre
crowds had gone we're playing on raw bone and singing through sandpaper so
we decide to pack it in. I want to see if we can play at a club which was a
bit of a legend called Les Cousins and I really wanted to meet Bert Jansch
who was a big hero, so we set off on the short walk to Greek Street. Short
way, maybe, but there were a lot of drinking dens to pass and we had
busking money in our pockets and a big thirst. So it was a couple of sorry
characters who crashed into Les Cousins much later, waving a pre-war five
string and a battered old Harmony Sovereign. I can't really remember if we
got to play (hope not!) and we didn't meet Bert but what we did see was this
amazing guy with rat-tail hair singing "I see your face in every place that
I've been going. I read your words like black hungry birds read every
sowing." For days afterwards I was haunted by the songs and the voice. It
was like I'd been part of a strange dream, then my buddy rushes into the
sleazy Notting Hill basement we shared for the next three years and he's
waving a Jackson C Frank album. We learnt the songs and played them all the
time. Then life took over and it wasn't until over thirty years later that I
turned on the radio and heard Bert singing Carnival and, suddenly, it all
came rushing back....
Feb 2003: Look for a new reissue of the album this summer on Castle with many more extra songs and some recent demos,
rough but interesting.
I once wrote a song for Jackson, just before he left one time. I thought
he was going for good, and I was quite sad because we were very close.
He did come back after that but I was touring the world by then.. The
reason I'm writing is that I'm looking for a decent pic of him.
Something that has a good focus. I'm putting my book together and I
would very much like to include Jackson.
29.01.03: I and about 10,000 others were introduced to Jackson last night at a
brilliant concert in Cardiff, Wales, by the Counting Crows.
I wish I had got the name of the song (about living in cheap hotels etc) but
it was superb (just vocal and guitar), and the Counting Crows gave us a
little potted Jackson Frank history too!
So, I've got to find his album and add it to my collection.
You might want to add the Counting Crows to your covers list now, sorry I
just don't know the song title.
Some years ago I saw another musician from my old folk
club days, one Mr Renbourn. He was playing in
Salisbury. The audience was poor, the sound system
f****d . John was, if he can be, at his wits end. He
saved the day. There was a guy, he said, from some
years back, dont know where he is now, but he sang a
And he played The Blues Run The Game. Magic.
Ta Mr Frank.
Just found your JCF page by accident - great tribute! I used to watch
him at Cousins in the 60s, and remember once that Bert Jansch (for some
reason) borrowed his guitar, and had trouble playing it, complaining
that it was strung too tight!
Jackson was an extraordinary guy. He only produced one album, but it had such an effect on singer-songwriters,
the way they actually wrote songs. The whole album is actually beautiful. Really fine, fine songs.
Great to find your Jackson C. Frank site and very glad that someone has done one at last! I'm
way too young to have any memories of Jackson, but a few years a go I put on a series of
gigs here in Cardiff (S.Wales) under the name 'Folk Heroes' and after Bert Jansch played he
was talking a lot about him when we asked. He rates him in a very big way.
I heard and met J. Frank on a number of occasions in "Les Cousins" club in
Greek Street - the general meeting place for singer-songwriters around
1966. I had a residency there at one time with John Martyn. My impression
was of this rather fiercely proud character, with the build of an American
footballer, who could be quite fierce and acidic when in conversation (and
drinking), yet singing these poignant, vulnerable songs with an almost
choirboy clarity....."Blues Run the Game" is the one song everyone knew and played. I think it
felt like a link between the Hemingway/Kerouac beats from America and the
emerging UK identity of singersongwriters. If Jackson represented the
American pole at that moment, Bert Jansch represented the UK pole.
I saw Jackson many times at the Cousins all those years ago (often with
my late wife
Barbara van Loren/Warner who knew Jackson) when I was a young idiot
feeling my own way into music... I have never forgotten the power and
of his performances... to me he was one of the true greats...
ironically I sang Blues Run The Game for years (and still do!)
and remember the many occasions when people would ask me - 'Who wrote
I used to see Jackson all the time at Les Cousins - thanks for doing
page on him. He was a beautiful human being, sad, but kind. And an
extraordinary musician and singer.
In 1969 I hit the proverbial "road" and decided to spend the winter discovering
"America", "Canada" and "myself" (how cliche), however, one early morning in
October, I loaded up my Austin Mini, and headed out with the basic route planned to
include visits to old Coffee House friends(Bell, Book and Candle) I knew were living
along the way. My first stop was at Hamiliton College in N.Y. state with Norm Boggs
and he mentioned that Jackson was down in Woodstock N.Y. where he was working
in a Leather Shop. When I pulled into town, I had no idea where to find him,
however (as it was back then) a few inquiries on the busy street started the ball
rolling. About an hour later, after sitting in my car on the main street, there was a tap
at my window and Jackson was standing there ready to chat.
For the next three days we hung out together, staying at various places...(he
had at that time just broken up with his wife and was sort of on his own).
My visit with him ended after a halloween party somewhere in the hills south of
Woodstock in an absolutely amazing house... his wife was living there and they
seemed to be getting back together as I left. I did take a few photos of his daughter
(about a year old?) in this house, and seem to remember maybe a shot of the three
of them (my photo files were destroyed in a flood about 13 years ago...along with my
journal that I kept of the trip....).
I used to go to a folk club in Greek St, London Called 'Les Cousins' where
people like Paul Simon used to pop in and sing (without Garfunkel), Phil
Ochs, Tom Paxton.
It was there'Jackson C Frank' performed.
I remember he hobbled up to the stage (He had a dodgy foot) and blew
everybody away. I remember saving up for 2 weeks and buying his album. God
knows where that is now.
Got married got older had kids etc. forgot all about JCF, then remembered
recently, looked him up on the web, and behold there are others out there
like me, must try to remember some other artist at les
I just found your site as, on a whim, I searched for JCF's name late one
night. So sad to learn he died last year. I often wondered what
happened to him, since I hadn't seen any more albums or heard anything.
Over the years I've sung his songs to myself many times--used to know
almost the whole album and had figured out some easy chords for "Milk &
He knew stuff, that man! I'm sitting here looking at my copy of his
album and just noticed he autographed it to me!
Just stumbled across your site. I didnt know that he had died! But I do have very fond
memories of him in the old 'Cousins days. Think I also saw him (looking pretty unwell) but
sounding beautiful at a club in Ilford about 1970?. Over the last 30 years or so Carnival, Just
Like Anything or Blues Run the Game still pop out of my guitar entirely of their own volition
from time to time. Just when I'm doodling, no concious effort at recall.
I lived in Nottingham, England in the 60s, and bought a copy of Jacksons album. It did the
rounds of all my friends and we loved it. People like Phil Ochs and Tom Paxton had been to
the local folk club, and for a while, folk music was what all the hippest cats in town were into.
We were all around 16 or 17 years old Then somehow, in 66 we found out Jackson was playing
at a folk club in London, so four of us piled into a friends rattling Morris 1000 and drove down to
his gig. It may have been at Les Cousins, but I cant remember. It was a great night and
Jackson made a big impression on us all.
We went back to Nottingham, inspired and high on our adventure. Then my friend Pete
Hollingsworth left my Jackson album in a phone box. We waited for another one- nothing was
ever released. We waited for more gigs, but heard nothing. Then the album was released on
CD a few years ago and Jacksons songs came back into my life, just as fine and fresh as ever
I knew Jackson way back in the Les Cousins days where I would perform from time to time
along with the likes of Jansch, Renbourn, Alex Campbell, Ann Briggs and Derroll Adams.
Derrol has only recently died and was cremated in Antwerp where his friends filled his coffin
with marijuana so you could only make out his face and moustache!
One would often see Donovan or Paul Simon in the front row at Les Cousins soaking up the
guitar techniques especially of J.C.F. He was Martin mad and had about six 28's which we
would all loan from him because most of us were pretty penniless at the time.
I think Paul Simon owes a hell of a lot to J.C.F.'s picking style. I was one of a few who had
"The Blues Run The Game" in their reportoire. I did the folk circuit for many years and did the
second and third Cambridge Festivals headlining where I also sang the song.
In those days we all knew each other really well and would stay in each other's homes which
were usually rather dingy crash pads. We didn't care about material things.
The last time I saw him many years ago was when he was with his mother who was on a visit
to London. Besides guitars he liked cars as well. He was driving an Aston Martin with the hood
down and he had three Martins stuffed behind the seats. That was in Old Compton Street,
Soho, just around the corner from Les Cousins. He pulled up for a chat with me and my friend
Les Cousins was the H.Q. for all the best folk musicians in those days; Sandy Denny, The
Young Tradition, Ralph McTell and of course J.C.F.
I particularly remember Dominic Beehan who always seemed to be pissed.
I could tell you dozens of hilarious stories about that era. Even Bob Dylan went down there.
They were great days and produced some of the greatest music of modern times.
I've released a full band version of "Blues Run The Game" which is on a C.D. entitled "Voodoo
Blues" on Blue Tit Records.
I'm very sad to hear of J.C.F's death but he'll always be with us as long as we sing his songs.
Meic Stevens 06.04.00
"If I had a penny I'd throw it in the sea,
to see if it would float away
or grow a penny tree"
Sitting at the computer on a sunny (too) hot afternoon in Israel and you tap in the name of one of
you favorite singers and zap!!! the hair (the little you have) on your head stands up and your eyes
sting just a little -after all it was a long time ago- Jackson c frank is no more........
I was lucky enough to see and meet Jackson in 1966 in Richmond, England, and as a direct result I
may be the only person in this part of the world who has a copy of his original album.
In the 60's there were a lot of 'folk singers' in the style of Bert Jansh, Tom Paxton and Julie
Felix who sang in great style, songs of war and peace, love and hate, but not many sang in a voice
that could cover your body in goose bumps and make you feel as if it was 'your' song he was singing.
In the 33 years since I saw him, a lot has happened in my life, and more than once, in times of
sorrow or despair I have put on the album, poured a drink and known that I'm not the only one who
has cried alone in the night.
"if they (my songs) communicate to you any measure of something valued,or remembered, or recognized
in the streets you have just walked, then they are a success within very limited qualifications:
that is, you and I have met before..."
I think I'll pour a drink and raise a toast to someone who didn't know my name, but was, for all
that a 'friend'
I was sad to hear of Jacks's death this year. I have often wondered what he
was doing and would certainly love to get a copy of his album. I have been
a fan and a fellow performer for over thirty years.
I first met him in 1961 in Buffalo. It was hoot night at the Limelight, a
legendary place in Buffalo's hip Allentown district, owned by Jerry Raven,
and Jack asked if he could sit in. Shortly after that he was playing the
club as a paid performer, and later formed a folk group with three other
people who were regulars there. I remember a number of performers from that
time and place as well: Eric Andersen, Doug Brown, Paul Siebel, Lisa
Kindred, Dave Wiffen, John Kay, Gene Michaels, Hackett and Raven, Bob
Kilheffer, my brother Terence and others. It was a magic time for me.
Over the next two years, Jack was as an active player in the burgeoning
folk scene in Buffalo, and in nearby Canada, where a lot of us also played
at a club called the Bell, Book, and Candle run by a wonderful woman named
In 1964, I left for New York to seek my fortune and became a record
producer. Jack went to England, where he ran across Paul Simon and other
members of the British folk scene at the time. He told me all about it when
I ran across him later in Woodstock, where he lived for a while. With a
glint in his eye, he explained how you could make back your airfare to
London by bringing a Martin D-28 with you and selling it there for a large
The overwhelming impression of him that stays with me was that he was a
performer of unparalleled commitment to whatever he was singing. You could
tell that he felt every word and every note. I will miss him.
Los Angeles, California
I just found out that Jackson has died so sorry I hadn't known how he
lived sence i last worked with him. It was only through an attempt to
reconstruct my own past and thus making some inquires about Jacksons
whereabouts that I discovered he had just died. Do you know where his
wife is ? Jackson and I ran what were called Woodstock Sound Festivals
back in 1967 & 68 . The, " if you can remember you weren't there" thing
kind of applies to me. But at any rate Jackson also played there and
was also responsible for our presenting Cream for their first US
appearance which was a disaster.
...I heard him sing at Les
Cousins folkclub in London (in the sixties), and bought his album ... and
still have it!
I vaguely looked in a record collector's catalogue recently and saw how
much it was worth, and thought I'd try and find out why.
I just bumped into the report of his death, too. Sad. It's odd, watching
yourself age by seeing the people you've encountered die. Sandy Denny,
too. I'd once asked her to sing "Blues Run the Game" when she sang at the
opening of a (short-lived) folk club in Woolwich (in London) ... without
knowing that there was any connection between the two of them
I just thought you might like to know that the college professor referred to
in the following passages,
'Then a couple of years ago Abbott was talking to a teacher at a local
college he was attending. They had a mutual interest in folk music, and
out of the blue, Abbott says, he asked the teacher whether he'd heard of
Jackson C Frank.
"I hadn't even thought about it for a couple of years," Abbott admits,
"and he goes, 'Well yes, as a matter of fact I just got a letter from
him. Do you feel like helping a down-on-his-luck folk singer?" '
Jackson had known the teacher in school and, in an attempt to leave New
York City, had written to ask if there was a place he could stay in
is my father, Mark Anderson! Did you know that, sadly, Jackson passed away of
Pneumonia on March third? Thought you might like to metion it in your page.
Thanks for the web page!
- David Anderson
I used to see him, Harper, Al Stewart et al at Les Cousins (back in the days
of 'fat tony' and 'old meg') Greek St.
Recently went back to where Les Cousins used to be - its now a food
storage/basement to a restaurant , but
the owner let us in to look around.
I remember him as a really nice, if slightly shy, friendly guy,
as were Harper, Stewart, Jansch, and, of course Alexis Korner.
These guys would talk, smoke with you and show you how they played certain
bits of their songs.
nick 'rolo' rowland
... Jackson always told me
that Bert was angry at him for the guitar riff in Carnival because
Bert couldn't figure out how it was played. He showed me. and it is
actually very simple once you realize that the chord he is playing is
an unusual one. I can't wait to hear how he did with it!
Jackson is gratified that people enjoy his
music and he's always amazed that people really enjoy his songwriting.
I don't think he has a clue as to how much of an influence he was on the
English folk scene back in the '60s.
What a nice tribute to Jackson! I'm sure he'll be very pleased about
your web page. I will contact him through a friend and make sure he
hears about it!
...I used to watch him perform at
the Folk Barge in Kingston, Surrey. It was a low-cost arrangement based on
twice weekly performances in an old Dutch sailing barge moored on the
Thames. There were resident musicians and some guests. Jackson was fairly
regular as a guest for a while, although the confined atmosphere below deck
did not suit him due to the extensive burns he had suffered, and he usually
had to break off after a few songs to go up into the night air.
He never said much to the audience, perhaps he was nervous, but I remember
that he found it harder to decide on the titles of his songs than to write
them. I recall strongly his performances of "The Coal Tattoo", which was
really a country tune from Billy Ed Wheeler, but Jackson's delivery with a
pounding twelvestring gave the song a different drama and life. I wish he
had recorded that!!
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