Line Out Music & the City at Night

Monday, September 16, 2013

RIP Jackie Lomax

Posted by on Mon, Sep 16, 2013 at 4:43 PM

Solo artist and songwriter Jackie Lomax died while in England yesterday; he died in Wirral, were he was born. He was only 69. He currently had been living in the US, but was in the UK to attend a wedding of one of his children.

Lomax began his career in one of the first merseybeat groups, the Undertakers. The Undertakers were typical of all the hopeful beat groups—they spent time at the Cavern Club, had local residencies in Hamburg, Germany, and were signed to Pye. In all they released four 45s. Uh...of course, they also used the gimmick of performing dressed as undertakers! In 1965 the Undertakers toured the US and spilt up after touring, but decided to stay in the States. However, by 1967, after the American market had ground them up, the Beatles' manager, Brian Epstein brought Lomax and his new group the Lomax Alliance back to England.

The Lomax Alliance made one single, but then Epstein committed suicide, leaving Lomax in the hands of the Beatles' label, Apple. Beatle George Harrison then smartly took over handling him and, with Harrison, Lomax recorded "Sour Milk Sea," a song Harrison wrote. After the single Lomax recorded an LP, his first, Is This What You Want?. From the deep soul of "Fall Inside Your Eyes" to the groovin' action of "Little Yellow Pills," it is an amazing album. On the album Lomax is backed by LA's famed Wrecking Crew studio players. Unfortunately, it was was issued just as the Beatles had officially split, so Apple was most focused on the final Beatles' releases; Lomax's record sunk.

After leaving Apple, Lomax joined Heavy Jelly—not the post-Skip Bifferty Heavy Jelly on Island, but another group known as Heavy Jelly. They only had one bluesy single, "Chewn In" b/w "Time Out" and a promo-only LP, Take Me Down to the Water, all on Head Records. After Heavy Jelly split, Lomax moved back to the US, signed with Warner Brothers, sorted out a group of former Lomax Alliance/Undertakers members, and proceeded to play. Together they recorded two more albums, albums NEARLY as great as his Apple LP, Home is in My Head and Three. He still didn't break through, however, so he again relocated to the UK and joined the super group Badger. When that group failed to break after an LP, White Lady, he moved yet again back to the US where he was picked up by Capitol. For Capitol he made two LPs—Livin' for Lovin' and Did You Ever Have That Feeling?—but he was dropped by 1977. After that, and during the '80s, he didn't work much. In the '90s he ramped up playing and by 2001 he had a new LP, The Ballad of Liverpool Slim. Since then he'd been playing, mostly West Coast dates, and had just finished up a new album.

He's one of those players that worked quite hard to develop something, and did—once he hit his stride his catalog is solid, but never scored a hit and thusly remained a bit of an unknown, an also-ran. I've always enjoyed his records, his voice is singular and the songwriting alway stop notch. Oh yeah, Lomax is also the stepfather of sleeze/fashion/art photog Terry Richarson.

 

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