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Jackson C. Frank
Jackson C. Frank
 March 3, 1999
Age 55
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    Jackson C. Frank 
    1943-1999 

    Although an American, the name Jackson C. Frank will forever be associated with the British folk revival of the 1960’s. His entire output comprises just one album, the eponymous Jackson C. Frank from 1965, but the influence of that record on the burgeoning folk community was enormous. Artists like Paul Simon (then living in England), Sandy Denny, Nick Drake, Roy Harper, Al Stewart and Bert Jansch all recorded his songs or were inspired to write songs in a similar style. 
        
    Frank had displayed a considerable musical talent from early on. He learned to play the guitar at age eleven, when recovering from an serious fire accident at school, which killed eighteen of his classmates and left him with burns and scars over his entire body. In the following years he started writing his own songs, until he was old enough to go to New York, where he toured the coffeehouse circuit together with John Kay, who would go on to greater fame as lead vocalist with the band Steppenwolf. 
         
    A large pay out by his insurance company, to compensate for the horrible accident, enabled him to go to London, where he shared an apartment with Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, just before they became world-famous. They were both very impressed by Frank and his songs, and Simon spontaneously offered to make an album with him. The whole lp was recorded in less than three hours and caused quite a stir in folk circles when it appeared a few months later. The largely introspective songs were quite unheard of in those days and almost every British folk singer worked tracks from the album in his or her own repertoire, the most popular being Blues Run the Game, that quickly received classic status. 
         
    The sudden fame had a paralyzing effect on Frank. Plagued by writer’s block, stage fright and depression, his talent seemed to have deserted him and within just a few years his money was all gone. He fled back to the United States to pull himself together, but just as he was getting his life and music in order, his wife left him and his son died, sending him hurtling back into a deep depression from which he would never recover. He was institutionalized, became homeless and spent most parts of the next twenty five years living as a vagrant on the streets of New York City, where he was once almost murdered. 
         
    Every now and then a story would appear that he had been "saved", and rumors would start that he was planning a comeback, but nothing ever materialized and Jackson C. Frank died a sad death after a sad life with just one short highlight. 
      

    Discography: 
    JACKSON C. FRANK (1965) 
      

    Jackson C. Frank was finally released on cd in 1996 with five unreleased bonustracks from 1975 under the title Blues Run The Game on Mooncrest Records. 
      

    Eric van Domburg Scipio in Heaven Magazine july/aug 1999. 
     

 
 
 
       
 

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BIOGRAPHY
 
 
One of the most interesting and enigmatic cult figures of 1960s folk, Jackson Frank's reputation rests almost solely upon one hard-to-find album from the mid-'60s. A stronger composer than a singer, he nonetheless had an appreciable influence on many more famous performers of the decade, including Paul Simon, Sandy Denny, and Nick Drake. 

 Trauma and misfortune have dogged Frank throughout his life. At the age of 11, a fire in his elementary school killed many of his classmates, and left him with burns over most of his body. He eventually recovered and learned to play the guitar, and hung around the early-'60s New York coffeehouse scene with John Kay, later of Steppenwolf. A large insurance settlement enabled him to travel to England after he turned 21, and it was there that he made most of his impact. 

Frank shared a London flat with fellow American expatriates Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, who were briefly based there in the mid-'60s prior to their first hit, "The Sounds of Silence." Simon, then a struggling folk singer/songwriter himself, was impressed enough to produce Frank's self-titled album, released in the U.K. only. While Frank's voice was tremulously earnest, the quality of the compositions was often impressive, with a reflective, melancholic air that most likely influenced 
 Simon, Al Stewart (who made his recording debut on one of the LP's tracks, "Yellow Walls"), and Nick Drake (who covered one of the songs, "Here Come the Blues," on late-'60s home tapes that have been extensively circulated as a bootleg). 

 Frank's album was well-received in British folk circles, and several of his songs made their way into the repertoire of his friend Sandy Denny, who recorded a couple, "Milk and Honey" and "You Never Wanted Me," on her own debut LP. (She also recorded a version of "You Never Wanted Me" with Fairport Convention, and a 1966 demo of "Blues Run the Game" appears on her Dark the Night bootleg.) Frank, however, was unable to come up with a similar quality of material for a follow-up. This, combined with stage fright, depression, and an end of the funds from the insurance setttlement that had enabled him to travel in high style, meant that he returned to the States in 1969 without releasing another album. 

Based in Woodstock, NY, Frank continued his songwriting, but family and depression problems resulted in homelessness by the mid-'70s. For most of the next two decades, Frank lived on the streets or hospitals, too discouraged to contact old friends and family. He was further hobbled by arthritis, inappropriate medication for his mental problems, and a shooting incident that left him legally blind in his left eye. In the mid-'90s, a sympathetic folk fan, Jim Abbott, helped Frank regroup from his setbacks by helping him gain more appropriate medical assistance and settle back in Woodstock, where he resumed songwriting, and occasionally performs. A 1995 profile in Dirty Linen magazine effectively "rediscovered" the missing legend, and legendary vintage recordings were finally issued on CD in 1996. -- Richie Unterberger, All-Music Guide

 
 
  
 
 

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