SEPTEMBER 15, 2013 – Singer/songwriter/musician JACKIE LOMAX (b. on May 10, 1944 in Wallasey, Cheshire, England) died at age 69 on the Wirral Peninsula of cancer while staying in England for the wedding of his daughter. Lomax’s second wife, the former Annie Richardson, died a year earlier.
Their survivors included his daughters, Vicki, Louise and Janine, all from his first marriage, to Dionne Armitage, five grandchildren, and a stepson, the photographer Terry Richardson.Best known for his association with George Harrison and Eric Clapton, Lomax first gained notice as the vocalist and bass player with The Undertakers (after leaving Dee and the Dynamites in January 1962), which were part of the Mersey Beat movement, and was later one of the first artists to sign with The Beatles label, Apple, with George Harrison penning his single “Sour Milk Sea”.LOMAX: “I was playing rhythm guitar in Dee & The Dynamites, doing pop stuff. Our drummer, Bugs Pemberton, left to join the Undertakers, and he told them, “If you’re looking for another bass player, why don’t you use this guy, Jack?” They said, “Well, does he play bass?” “No, but I’m sure he can!” So I got dragged into this scene where I got handed the bass, because the other bassist didn’t pay for it, and I could make the payments. The other singer was this crazy Irishman Jimmy McManus who drank too much and picked fights with the crowd, so we eventually kicked him out, and he picked fights with us! There were two other singers in the band, guitarist Geoff Nugent and sax player Brian Jones, but neither were lead vocalists.
I fitted in right as the lead, that was just the way it was. The falsetto was the thing to do at the time, the way to do it…”Their repertoire covered soul (Mary Wells, the Isley Brothers, the Impressions, Solomon Burke), R & B (Rosco Gordon, James Brown) and rock ‘n’ roll (Chuck Berry, Carl Perkins, Fats Domino) but their tour de force was (Do The) Mashed Potatoes, an obscure dance stomp done originally by Nat Kendrick & the Swans. By June 1962, the Undertakers had settled on their most stable line-up – Chris Huston (lead guitar), Geoff Nugent (guitar, vocals), Brian Jones (sax, vocals), Bugs Pemberton (drums) and Jackie Lomax (bass, lead vocals) – and were considered the hard rockers of Merseybeat, with a stage act which was second to none.They followed The Beatles’ route through local venues before setting out for Hamburg, Germany, and securing a recording contract. They signed with Pye Records and released four singles, but they only managed one week on the UK Singles Chart between them. In 1965 they decided to try their luck in the United States.After years of bad luck, the Undertakers eventually fizzled out in America. Geoff Nugent had refused to accompany them to the USA in the autumn of 1964 and at the end of 1965, Brian Jones returned home. The other three decided to stay in America but went their separate ways.But before the band dissolved, they released one single in the US on the Black Watch label, “I Fell In Love” b/w “Throw Your Love Away Girl”, which featured, as a B-side, was the first appearance of a Jackie Lomax composition.
The rest of the recordings would have to wait thirty years to see the light of day.Jackie Lomax and Bugs Pemberton eventually ended up in a band called The Lost Souls who played regularly in Greenwich Village. Lomax explained “Bugs got a job in a band called the Lost Souls, then they got me. It was sort of a copy group of the Beatles, then it started to change into an R&B group, which became the Lomax Alliance.”LOMAX: “Epstein ended up in New York with the Beatles for the Shea Stadium concert, and we went to Shea with the Beatles, and hung out with them at the Warwick Hotel. Epstein wanted to take me back to London as a singer, but I told him to listen to the whole band, and the entire Lomax Alliance went back to London.”They had recorded some tracks in New York before crossing the Atlantic and Brian Epstein arranged for them to record more titles to complete an album, produced by John Simon.In 1967, Epstein took this latest line-up (bassist Tom Caccetta using the surname “Peters”, John Cannon on guitar, Lomax on guitar/vocals, and Bugs Pemberton on drums) to London’s Saville Theatre, and arranged for a single and an album to be recorded. They signed to CBS before Epstein’s death.In Britain, the only Lomax Alliance single, “Try As You May” b/w “See The People,” proved no more successful than the Undertakers’ releases in spite of Brian Epstein’s backing. Unfortunately Epstein’s untimely death intervened and no further Lomax Alliance recordings were released. The band were ‘inherited’ by Robert Stigwood who was too preoccupied with the BeeGees to pay any attention to the Lomax Alliance.The group went back to America but disbanded soon afterwards: Jackie Lomax returned to Britain and John, Tom and Bugs continued working as a unit in the States, and released “Hey Taxi” b/w “Enter Into My World” on Columbia. The A-side, a Lomax/Cannon song, had been recorded by the Lomax Alliance in New York: the B-side by John Cannon had been recorded during the album sessions in London.
Jackie sang and played on the single but due to the fact that he was no longer part of the band, the single was credited to One. Unfortunately it was no more successful than the previous release.Cannon said “It was actually released in the US under the band name ONE. This was the name Bugs, Tom and I used when Jackie went with Apple and we continued together in the States. Hey Taxi was recorded with Jackie and I singing in New York before we went to London.”The next CBS single released in Britain was the first Jackie Lomax solo release. Although its catalog number points to a much earlier release, CBS released “Genuine Imitation Life” b/w “One Minute Woman” in October 1967. The B-side was written by Robin, Barry, and Maurice Gibb.At the same time, Jackie met up again with Wayne Bickerton and some members of what used to be the Pete Best Combo. They were recording demos for a publishing company, had studio time available and wanted a singer. Jackie recorded “Honey Machine” with them, a track which in the 1990s appeared on a Bam Caruso compilation “Circus Days Vol 1 & 2”, as being recorded by the Lomax All-Stars. Jackie also recorded a demo of one of his own songs, “Only A Fool,” which was recorded by Clyde McPhatter and released on the Deram label.LOMAX: “I was doing this album with Brian Epstein when he died. That sort of left me in limbo until George Harrison said, ‘Do you want to make an album?’ What could I say?”After Brian Epstein’s death, the “Lomax Alliance” album ground to a halt: the band went back to America but Jackie Lomax returned to Britain to record for Apple while the other three continued under the name One.LOMAX: “So we went back to America and I just hung around, looking for something to do. Eventually I went to see a couple of the Beatles, and John (Lennon) told me that since I was a songwriter, I should go see the guy at Apple Publishing–that’s all they had at the time; their office was above their boutique. You’d record your songs on two-track, and that’s how I got to George (Harrison); he liked the songs, and said, ‘Let’s do an album when I come back from India.’ I wasn’t sure it would ever happen, but it did.”In spite of his lack of success, Jackie Lomax was the first person signed to the Beatles’ new Apple label as a solo artist at the beginning of 1968, and at last it looked as if the success which had, incredibly, eluded him for six years, would finally be coming his way. George Harrison took responsibility for his recording career and wrote and produced his debut single. Jackie also contributed the fourth (low) harmony part to “Dear Prudence” on “The Beatles” (aka “The White Album”) and sang on “Hey Jude.”Harrison explained “I wrote ‘Sour Milk Sea’ in Rishikesh, India. I never actually recorded the song – it was done by Jackie Lomax on his album ‘Is This What You Want?’ Anyway, it’s based on Vishvasara Tantra, from Tantric art. ‘what is here is elsewhere, what is not here is nowhere’… it’s a picture, and the picture is called Sour Milk Sea – Kalladadi Samudra in Sanskrit.
I used Sour Milk Sea as the idea of – if you’re in the sh**, don’t go around moaning about it: do something about it.”Lomax admitted that when he heard the backing track with Eric and Ringo, it sounded better, and he started to think, “I’m not sure if I can sing this d**n thing because it sounds so good as an instrumental! When I sang it, there were three people in the booth looking at me – George, Paul and Ringo.”The single was one of the first four Apple singles – The Beatles’ “Hey Jude” and Mary Hopkin’s “Those Were The Days” were released on August 30, 1968, and “Sour Milk Sea” and The Black Dyke Mills Band’s “Thingumybob” on September 6th – and featured Jackie, George Harrison, and Eric Clapton on guitars, Paul McCartney on bass, Ringo Starr on drums, and Nicky Hopkins on piano.In spite of the superstar line-up, the single failed to chart but an LP of Jackie’s own songs was recorded, again produced by George Harrison and with the same line-up on many of the tracks. Other tracks came out of sessions Jackie and George recorded with the cream of LA session players: Hall Blaine on drums, Larry Knechtel on keyboards and Joe Osborn on bass. The LP, “Is This What You Want?”, was released in March 1969.LOMAX: “so there I was adding up sheets of Dock-Gatemen’s’ wages when I decided to take up playing seriously and wound up in Germany. Six years later, this album is the result of that decision… that’s about it.”There was no concerted effort to promote the album or to highlight the incredible group of musicians involved and although official sales figures have been lost in the black hole which was Apple’s business accounts, it didn’t sell enough to enter the charts in Britain or America.Also in March 1969, Paul McCartney recorded Jackie performing a cover of the Coasters’ “Thumbin’ A Ride” and “Going Back To Liverpool”. George Harrison played guitar and Billy Preston handled keyboards. The following month, Jackie produced himself on a new composition of his, called New Day which became his second single. It featured Billy Kinsley of the Merseybeats on bass, Tim Renick on guitar, Chris Hatfield on piano and Pete Clark on drums. October 1969 saw the last of the Apple sessions, when George Harrison produced “How The Web Was Woven” which would be the last Jackie Lomax single on Apple.The void created by the Beatles’ break-up and the shake-up of Apple brought about by Allen Klein left Apple artists in limbo and with nothing required from him by his current record label, Jackie Lomax joined the legendary, almost-fictitious Heavy Jelly in 1970.
The band had began as a hoax review in Time Out magazine. Guitarist John Morshead from The Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation and three ringers had posed for the “group’s” photo in the magazine, so to cash in on the buzz Morshead and drummer Carlo Little released a single on promoter John Curd’s Head Records (“Chewn In” b/w “Time Out” – 1969). They were beaten to the punch however by the group Skip Bifferty who released their own single as Heavy Jelly (“I Keep Singing That Same Old Song” b/w “Blue”) on Island Records. The A-Side became fairly well-known at the time from its inclusion on the Island sampler “Nice Enough To Eat.” Curd owned the rights to the name however, and stopped Island from releasing any other Heavy Jelly productions.With his former Aynsley Dunbar mate bassist Alex Dmochowski in tow, guitarist Morshead formed another version of Heavy Jelly with Jackie Lomax. Mike Kellie from Spooky Tooth drummed on some sessions but was later replaced by Barry Jenkins, formerly of The Animals. Also helping out were the tragic Badfinger duo of Pete Ham and Tom Evans on backing vocals and “horn section to the stars” Bobby Keys and Jim Price. The self-titled Heavy Jelly album was recorded, entirely consisting of Lomax songs, but was only issued for promotional purposes and never released commercially due to contractual issues with Apple. After the album was finished, the band began touring but was bedeviled by line-up changes. Drummer Dave Rowland and bassist Steve Thompson were with the group at one point. After a few months the band disintegratedAfter his short stint with the group, Jackie relocated to Woodstock, New York, USA and was signed to Warner Brothers. His first LP for them was “Home Is In My Head” which featured, amongst others, Undertaker and Lomax Alliance member Bugs Pemberton on drums and Lomax Alliance bass player Tommy Caccetta.LOMAX: “When I did my second album in 1970, I wanted to be the guitarist. But I had two great guitar players at the time, and Bugs from the Undertakers on drums. When I got on bass, it all came alive.”It was released in 1971 and in spite of it being his best work to date, sales were poor and it enjoyed no chart action in Britain or America. The slower tracks were particularly impressive – “When I Miss You The Most, Or So It Seems,” “You Within Me” – although the format and mix remained much as it had been on his Apple debut solo LP. It proved he could produce an impressive record without the help of the star-studded backing band featured on “Is This What You Want?”The following year saw him contributing background vocals to Bonnie Raitt’s “Give It Up” LP and the release of his third solo LP (his second for Warner Brothers) entitled “Three,” which featured many of the same musicians as the previous recordings as well as members of The Band on “Hellfire, Night-Crier.” The album was produced by John Simon who, in 1967, had produced the unreleased “Lomax Alliance” LP before moving on to work with The Band.
The album picked up, quality-wise, where the last one left off, and, like the previous two, it deserved to win friends and influence people, but unfortunately it did neither.To promote the album, Warner Brothers released an interview LP “Interview With Jackie Lomax,” but neither that nor the high quality of the recording itself persuaded people to buy it. In spite of tracks like “No Reason” and “Fever’s Got Me Burning” and beautiful, slow, sad songs like “Last Time Home,” the record was inexplicably overlooked by the record-buying public and, out of contract, Jackie returned to England in 1973 and joined Badger, a group put together by ex-Yes keyboard player Tony Kaye, and they recorded the “White Lady” LP, which sounded very little like the previous Badger release. The entire album, made up of Lomax songs, was produced by Allen Toussaint and featured Jackie’s usual blend of R&B and soul. The guitar solo on the title track, “White Lady,” was played by Jeff Beck.The break-up of the band happened not long after the release of the album, after a gig at Croydon’s Fairfield Hall, when a disagreement with ELO over the use of their PA system ruined what should have been a triumphant evening for them.
Jackie and bass player Kim Gardner left Badger to form a short-lived, breakaway group called after the album. Jackie Lomax then crossed the Atlantic again to restart his solo career and to finally settle in America.Capitol signed Jackie Lomax in 1975 and his first album for them appeared the following year. “Livin’ For Lovin'” again featured his own brand of white R&B soul and there was still a place for JL stalwart Bugs Pemberton. Once again, however, the LP failed to raise a great deal of interest, although it continued the high standard set by previous Lomax releases and featured him playing voice box guitar which Peter Frampton would use to worldwide acclaim the same year.His next and final LP for Capitol was released in 1977: “Did You Ever Have That Feeling?” was released in the USA but didn’t receive a European release. The album cover was designed by Klaus Voorman who also designed the covers of The Beatles “Revolver” and “Anthology” albums and who had played bass on some of Jackie’s Apple recordings.His contract with Capitol was completed and there was no rush by other labels to sign him. After that, Jackie moved to Los Angeles.In 1980 Lomax took part in a recording session for Rod Stewart’s “Foolish Behaviour” LP, contributing backing vocals. In the late 80s Jackie Lomax made Ojai, Ventura County his home, where he lived the rest of his life.In 1990, he re-appeared as a contributor to the compilation album “True Voices”, covering Tim Buckley’s “Devil Eyes”, and he began playing in LA with Terry Reid, Mick Taylor, Brian Auger and Jack Lancaster.LOMAX: “For a while I played bass for the Drifters, the Diamonds, the Coasters and the Shirelles as recently as 1993–four sets a night. I just really started getting comfortable playing guitar since I moved up here to Ojai in the late ’80s. I didn’t have the confidence to play before and I always hired guitar players for my albums. You take solos on guitars; no one wants to hear a bass solo.”In 1996 he was involved in the Big Beat release of the Undertakers’ CD, which featured all their Pye singles as well as an American single and unreleased material from the mid-60s and photographs provided by Jackie himself. Throughout 1997 he was playing R&B, blues and soul at the Café Voltaire in Ventura, the Coconut Teaser on Sunset Strip and Libby Park in Ojai, and in 1997 contributed background vocals to former Alice Cooper guitarist Michael Bruce’s “In My Own Way” album.In 1999 he was playing first guitar and singing with the Ashford Gordon Band which also included Ashford Gordon on vocals and guitar, Orest Balaban on bass, Dynamic Dave Stewart on drums, and Hippie Mark on Blues Harp. He appeared as the featured ‘first’ guitarist on Ashford Gordon’s “Somewhere Down The Line” album released in 2000, and he was teaching music one day a week at Blue Sky Music in Ojai, California.During the first half of 2001, Jackie Lomax put the finishing touches to his first solo album in years and years and years.
Entitled “The Ballad Of Liverpool Slim”, it once again featured Jackie’s unique R&B. His voice and song-writing were better than ever and his guitar-playing was nothing short of brilliant.In August 2003, Jackie Lomax made a triumphant return to the Cavern in Liverpool to play two gigs as part of Beatles Week 2003. Playing with Wonderwall — Stan Bullock (drums), Chuck Martin (keyboards), Brad Newell (guitar) and Marc Diffendal (bass) – half of his set was taken from his Apple recordings with the other 50% being made up of “LIVERPOOL SLIM” songs. He also found time to play with the current line-up of the Undertakers which still includes Geoff Nugent and Brian Jones. A splendid time was had by all.In 2004, “The Ballad Of Liverpool Slim” received a off-line release on the 7th Street Songs label. That version also included a new song, written after the death of George Harrison, called “Friend-A-Mine.” With 7th Street Songs, Jackie seemed to have found a label that appreciated his history.Apart from his new record deal, a continuing gig schedule and appearances at various Beatles-related and George Harrison tribute events, the highlight of 2004 for Jackie was soul legend Percy Sledge recording a wonderful version of “Fall Inside Your Eyes” for his 2004 album, “Shining Through The Rain.”2005 saw an unlikely collaboration with Paul Whitehead and Alex E. Carpani’s Borg Symphony, singing on “Tixe’s Song,” the only vocal track on their album “Ode To Hero Tixie.” In August 2006 Jackie was back in Liverpool, playing gigs in and around Beatleweek 2006, with the Undertakers. Jackie again joined Geoff Nugent and Brian Jones from the original line-up for gigs at the Pierhead, the Empire Theatre and Fort Perch Rock. He returned to play similar gigs in 2008 and contributed two tracks to the new Undertakers album, “Resurrection.” August visits to Liverpool became an annual event and during those visits Jackie started recording a new album with long-time friend and fellow Undertaker Brian ‘Saxophone’ Jones.”The Ballad Of Liverpool Slim” finally got a worldwide release on Angel Air Records in March 2009. Two bonus tracks (a 1976 live version of “Sour Milk Sea” and “Friend-A-Mine”) were added to the original album for its release as “The Ballad Of Liverpool Slim… Plus.”In 2010 the best of the unreleased Lomax Alliance tracks were finally released on CD by RPM. “Lost Soul” combined a CD of 16 Lomax Alliance and Jackie Lomax recordings from 1966/67 with a bonus CD of the 1974 “White Lady” album by Badger.In April 2012 Jackie returned to Hamburg for the 50th anniversary of the Star Club, playing with the Undertakers and as a solo artist. A splendid time was had by all who attended.Living in Ojai, California, Lomax put the finishing touches to his new album “Against All Odds” in 2013 and signed a contract with Angel Air Records for its January 2014 release, but died Merseyside on the Wirral Peninsula, where he had been born.