It was sad to hear recently about the death at the age of 61 from cancer of singer songwriter Jackie Leven. It has to be said that Jackie deserved more success than he achieved in life as he was a very talented man. In that respect I like many others was probably guilty of not buying enough of his albums or going to see him often enough but I’m glad of those times I did.
The first times I saw him were in the late 70’s as a member of the new wave band Doll by Doll. I saw them on the Friday afternoon at Reading in 1979 just below an up and coming band called the Cure. The next year found them on the bill at the Rock on the Tyne festival at Gateshead Stadium again just below an up and coming new band who went by the name of U2.
He next appeared on my radar in around 1994 when he released his Mystery of Love is greater than the mystery of death album. I heard the above song Clay Jug on the Johnny Walker show on Radio 1 and was knocked out by it. I bought the album and it has been one of my favourites ever since. I went to see him solo a couple of time. The first time was at the 12 bar club in London where I found to my delight that Chuck Prophet was also on the bill. However there was also a third act on which pushed the time that Jackie came on till quite late. I had to leave about 2/3rds of the way through the set and as I walked past him on the way out he made a sarcastic comment to which I replied “yeah well some of us have to get up in the morning!”
The last time I saw him was at the Tron in Glasgow in 2003 as part of the Celtic Connections festival. He was on top form and I really enjoyed it despite being somewhat inebriated by the time I got there do to a chance meeting with 3 strangers, all of whom seemed to be called Jim, in the Scotia Bar where I had popped in for a quick preshow pint of Heavy! They all insisted on buying me drinks and I was lucky to get away in time to see the gig.
It was a shock to find he had died as I didn’t know he was ill and in fact had only just suggested him as a possible act for this year’s SoL party a few days earlier. Another great talent that has been lost this year and will be sadly missed.