Joe Jackson

Joe Jackson - © 2008 mvonlanthen

born on 11/8/1954 in Burton upon Trent, West Midlands, United Kingdom

Joe Jackson (musician)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Joe Jackson
Birth name David Ian Jackson
Born August 11 1954
Burton upon Trent, England
Genres Punk rock/ska (early)
new wave, pop, power-pop, jazz, classical music
Occupations Musician, Songwriter, Author
Instruments Vocals, piano, keyboards, organ, saxophone, harmonica, melodica, synthesizer, accordion, vibraphone
Years active 1978-present
Labels A&M, Sony
Website Official website

Joe Jackson (born David Ian Jackson, 11 August 1954, Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire[1]) is an English musician and singer-songwriter now living in Berlin, whose five Grammy Award nominations span from 1979 to 2001.[2] He is probably best-known for the 1978 hit song "Is She Really Going Out with Him?", which still gets extensive FM radio airplay; for his 1982 hit, "Steppin' Out"; and for his 1984 success with "You Can't Get What You Want (Till You Know What You Want)". He is also known for his 1978 song "Got The Time", covered by US thrash band Anthrax in 1990.

Along with Elvis Costello and Graham Parker, Jackson was a part of the trio of English artists who challenged the punk scene and brought a New Wave sound to the United States in the late 1970s. He was popular for his power-pop and new wave music early on before moving to more eclectic, though less commercially successful, pop/jazz/classical musical pieces.


Born in Staffordshire, David Jackson (as he was then known) grew up in Portsmouth in the Paulsgrove area and he attended the City of Portsmouth Boys School. His parents later moved to Gosport when he was a teenager.

He initially learnt to play the violin but soon switched to piano and prevailed on his dad to install one in the hall of their Paulsgrove council house, a bold move. From the age of sixteen he played in bars, and won a scholarship to study musical composition at London's Royal Academy of Music. Jackson did not like the prospect of being a serious composer, and moved towards pop and rock.

Jackson's first band, in Gosport, was Edward Bear (not to be confused with the 1970s Canadian band fronted by Larry Evoy). The band was later renamed Edwin Bear and later Arms and Legs, in order to avoid confusion with the Canadian group. Arms & Legs dissolved in 1976 after two unsuccessful singles. Although he was still known as David Jackson while in Arms & Legs, it was around this time that Jackson picked up the nickname "Joe", based on his perceived resemblance to the puppet character Joe 90. He then spent some time in the cabaret circuit to make money to record his own demos. However, whilst at school he had been known as 'Joe' to his schoolmates and teachers from 1972 onwards.

In 1978 a record producer heard his tape, and got him signed to A&M Records. The album Look Sharp! was recorded straight away, and was released in 1979, quickly followed by I'm the Man (also 1979) and Beat Crazy in 1980. He also collaborated with Lincoln Thompson in reggae crossover.

The Joe Jackson Band was successful and toured extensively. After the break-up of the band, Jackson took a break and recorded an album of old-style swing and blues tunes, Jumpin' Jive, featuring songs of Cab Calloway, Lester Young, Glenn Miller, and most prominently, Louis Jordan. The album, and associated single release, was credited to Joe Jackson's Jumpin' Jive.[2]

Jackson's 1982 album Night and Day paid tribute to the wit and style of Cole Porter (and indirectly to New York City). Night and Day was Jackson's only studio album to reach either the United States or UK Top 10, peaking at #4 (US) and at #3 (UK), and the cuts "Steppin' Out" and "Breaking Us In Two" were chart hits. The tracks "Real Men" and "A Slow Song" have pointed obliquely to the city's early 1980s gay culture.[3] Jackson lived in New York for the next twenty years, incorporating the sound of the city into his music throughout the 1980s and beyond.

Almost two years later, Jackson recorded the UK #14 album Body and Soul, also heavily influenced by pop and jazz standards and salsa, showcasing the US #15 hit single "You Can't Get What You Want (Till You Know What You Want)". The album was a modest commercial success and is widely regarded among audiophiles as a digital recording of the highest quality.

In 1986 he collaborated with Suzanne Vega on the single "Left of Center" from Pretty in Pink's soundtrack (with Vega singing and Jackson playing piano).

Jackson followed with Big World, a three-sided double record (the fourth side consisted of a single centering groove and a label stating "there is no music on this side"), which was recorded live. The instrumental "Will Power" set the stage for things to come later, but before he left pop behind he put out two more albums, Blaze of Glory and Laughter & Lust.

For some years he drifted away from the pop style, going on to be signed by Sony Classical in 1997. They released his Symphony No. 1 in 1999, for which he received a Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Album in 2001.[4]

In 1995, Joe Jackson contributed his version of "Statue of Liberty" on a tribute album to the English band XTC called "Testimonial Dinner" (released 1998).

In 2003, he reunited his original quartet[2] for an album (entitled Volume 4, implying that it was the follow-up to his first three albums with the original band) and lengthy tour. As before the quartet consisted of Jackson, Graham Maby, Dave Houghton and Gary Sanford.

In 2004 Jackson performed a cover of Pulp's "Common People", with William Shatner for Shatner's album Has Been.

Jackson toured 45 US and European cities in 2005 with Todd Rundgren and the string quartet Ethel, appearing on Late Night with Conan O'Brien performing their collaborative cover version of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps".

Thereafter, he embarked on a short tour in a piano-bass-drums trio format. He toured Europe in Spring 2007, again in a trio format. Jackson's album, Rain was released by Rykodisc on 28 January 2008 in the UK and one day later in the US[5] The album included a CD and a bonus DVD containing over 40 minutes of material, including concert and behind-the-scenes footage and interviews. Jackson performed two UK shows in spring 2008, followed by a full UK tour.

Other activities

Jackson has actively campaigned against smoking bans in both the US and the UK,[6] writing a 2005 pamphlet The Smoking Issue, a 2007 essay Smoke, Lies and the Nanny State,[7] and issuing a satirical song ("In 20-0-3") on the subject.[8] It was in 2003, soon after the New York smoking ban, that Jackson left the city and returned to Portsmouth, England, where he has a flat in the oldest part of the city that overlooks the harbor. Recently, in the DVD interviews in Rain, it was stated that he moved to Berlin in early 2007.

He has been quoted as saying he now spends most of his time in Berlin, but still has places in Portsmouth and New York City. From time to time, when at home, he can be spotted in Portsmouth pubs that serve real ale, his enthusiasm for which is noted in his autobiography, A Cure For Gravity.

Jackson is also an author, having written A Cure for Gravity, published in 1999, which Jackson has described as a "book about music, thinly disguised as a memoir". It traces his working class upbringing in Portsmouth and charts his musical life from childhood until his twenty fourth birthday. Life as a pop star, he suggested, was hardly worth writing about.

Cover versions & popular use of music

In 1990, thrash metal band Anthrax recorded a cover version of Jackson's "Got The Time" for their Persistence of Time album, which got considerable airplay on MTV.

In 2001, Tori Amos covered Jackson's song "Real Men" on her album Strange Little Girls.

In 2002, "Steppin' Out" appeared in the popular video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, playing on pop radio station, Flash FM. A loop of the instrumental portion of this song is used as the theme tune for the WYES-TV (New Orleans) weekly arts and entertainment program, Steppin' Out. The melody is also used frequently as 'bumper music' on The Neal Boortz show.

In 2003, Sugar Ray covered Jackson's hit song "Is She Really Going Out With Him" for their album In the Pursuit of Leisure.

In 2008, Jackson's "One More Time" was used in Taco Bell commercials in the US


Original albums

  • Look Sharp! (1979, A&M) #20 US, #40 UK
  • I'm the Man (1979, A&M) #22 US, #12 UK
  • Beat Crazy (1980, A&M) #41 US, #42 UK
  • "The Harder They Come" (EP) 1980
  • Jumpin' Jive (1981, A&M) #42 US, #14 UK
  • Night and Day (1982, A&M) #4 US, #3 UK
  • Mike's Murder (1983, A&M) #64 US
  • Body and Soul (1984, A&M) #20 US, #14 UK
  • Big World (1986, A&M) #34 US, #41 UK
  • Will Power (1987, A&M) #131 US
  • Tucker Original Soundtrack (1988, A&M)
  • Blaze of Glory (1989, A&M) #61 US, #36 UK
  • Laughter & Lust (1991, Virgin) #116 US, #41 UK
  • Night Music (1994, Virgin)
  • Heaven & Hell (1997, Sony)
  • Symphony No. 1 (1999, Sony)
  • Night and Day II (2000, Sony)
  • Volume 4 (2003, Rykodisc)
  • Rain, (2008, Rykodisc)

[2] [9]

Live albums

  • Live 1980/86 (1988, A&M) #91 US, #66 UK
  • Summer in the City: Live in New York (2000, Sony)
  • Two Rainy Nights (2002, Great Big Island)
  • AfterLife (2004, Rykodisc)

Compilation albums

  • Stepping Out: The Very Best of Joe Jackson 1990 #7 UK
  • This Is It! (The A&M Years 1979-1989) (Joe Jackson) (1997, A&M)



Year Title Chart positions Album
UK Singles Chart[2] Australia Canada Germany Netherlands[10] New Zealand[11] US
Billboard Hot 100[12]
Modern Rock Tracks[12]
Mainstream Rock Tracks[12]
1978 "Is She Really Going Out with Him?" 13 15 9 46 18 21 Look Sharp!
1979 "Sunday Papers"
1979 "One More Time"
1979 "Fools in Love"
1979 "I'm the Man" 23 I'm the Man
1979 "It's Different for Girls" 5 85
1980 "Kinda Kute" 91
1980 "The Harder They Come" 34 non-album track
1981 "Jumpin' Jive" 43 61 32 Jumpin' Jive
1982 "Real Men" 6 17 48 Night and Day
1982 "Steppin' Out" 6 30 5 28 21 6 7
1983 "Breaking Us in Two" 59 90 40 35 18
1983 "Memphis" 85 Mike's Murder (soundtrack)
1984 "You Can't Get What You Want (Till You Know What You Want)" 96 30 15 Body & Soul
1984 "Happy Ending" 58 47 19 57
1984 "Be My Number Two" 70
1986 "Left of Centre" (Suzanne Vega featuring Joe Jackson) 32 35 Pretty in Pink (soundtrack)
1986 "Right and Wrong" 64 11 Big World
1988 "Is She Really Going Out with Him? (Live)" 5 Live 1980/86
1989 "(He's a) Shape in a Drape" 87 73 35 Tucker (soundtrack)
1989 "Nineteen Forever" 79 58 44 4 16 Blaze of Glory
1991 "Obvious Song" 64 2 28 Laughter & Lust
1991 "Stranger Than Fiction" 79 53 71
1991 "Oh Well" 20 25
2001 "Stranger Than You" 91 Night and Day II
"" denotes a title that did not chart, or was not released in that territory.


  1. Allmusic biography. Retrieved on 11 August 2010.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums, 19th, London: Guinness World Records Limited.
  3. "NPR Weekend Edition Sunday: Gay Pop Music", 22 June 2003. (22 June 2003). Retrieved on 11 August 2010.
  4. Allmusic ((( Joe Jackson > Charts & Awards > Grammy Awards ))).
  5. Rykodisc press release
  6. website
  7. The Official Website of Joe Jackson. Retrieved on 11 August 2010.
  8. Joe Joe Retrieved on 11 August 2010.
  9. Allmusic ((( Joe Jackson > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums ))).
  10. - Dutch charts portal (Dutch). Hung Medien / Retrieved on 11 August 2010.
  11. - New Zealand charts portal. Hung Medien. Retrieved on 11 August 2010.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Allmusic ((( Joe Jackson > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles ))).


  • A Cure for Gravity, 1999, autobiography ISBN 1-86230-083-6

External links

  • Official site
  • The Joe Jackson Archive (fansite)
  • Joe Jackson's career on A&M Records with gallery, international discography
  • Joe Jackson biography at Allmusic website
  • Video-interview with Joe Jackson on, 31 January 2008
This page was last modified 30.08.2010 22:38:15

This article uses material from the article Joe Jackson (musician) from the free encyclopedia Wikipedia and it is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.