Jackson C. Frank - An Unknown Genius

Released by Columbia [EMI - 33SX 1788 ] in 1965 Jackson C. Frank is the self-titled and only album by american folk guitarist Jackson C. Frank.

Paul Simon was so admirative of Jackson's work that he produced the LP with his own money, and had both Al Stewart and Art Garfunkel attend the recording. Frank was so nervous during the sessions held at London CBS Studios that he had to have screens around him in order to play and sing.

Listen to Milk And Honey



Jackson's life was tainted with sheer tragedy as early as age 11, when his New York state elementary school's furnace exploded killing most of his classmates, leaving him badly burnt and hospitalized. It is during his recovery that his music teacher offered him his first acoustic guitar.

Ten years later (1964), he received a 100.000 $ check for his injuries, a mere fortune at the time, which allowed him to indulge in a musical career and to "catch a boat to England", just like the first verse of Blues Run The Game states.

Listen to Blues Run The Game


After a rather successful first year touring English clubs and getting acquainted with British musicians, his record earned a certain recognition among artists, but did not reach public glory.

As soon as 1966, Frank being caught up by his mental fragility, began to experience writter's block and finally returned to the States where he married English former model Elaine Sedgwick. Their son's early death from cystic fibrosis rapidly catapulted Jackson into strong depression.
By the mid 80s he was living on the streets, going in and out of mental institutes where he was treated for paranoid schizophrenia. As if his life hadn' t been hard enough yet, he was blinded by a pellet gun shot in the left eye while just sitting on the wrong bench at the wrong time in a New York park.

Rescued and accommodated by a fan that managed to find him in the streets, he spent the reminder of his life in Massachussets. He then began to play and compose again although never reaching his former poetic and musical peak. His death from pneumonia and cardiac arrest in 1999 at age 56 finally put an end to what can only be described as the life of damned poet. Fortunately the 1965 gem was completed in 2003 by a 2 discs album entitled Blues Run The Game (Castle US) adding another 28 tracks to the first 15.

Blues Run The Game, Jackson's most famous songs was covered by many artists amongst which : Simon and Garfunkel, Bert Jansch, Nick Drake, or more mainstream and recent bands such as Counting Crows.

Listen to Marlene


To me Jackson C. Frank is one of the finests folk singers and guitarist sof the sixties and his album an absolute must have. Rarely have I loved so many tracks on a single album, even after so many hearings. Although not virtuoso, his elaborate guitar playing stresses the sheer emotion of those finely chiselled tunes, while the alternance of very insistent picking patterns and musical punch lines perfectly expresses the sorrow and poetry of his songs.

Occasionnally exploding in higher pitched and cristalline peaks, his finely grained and slightly nasal voice softly explores harmonies. As a result, yelding a rare tension, from the very first notes in most songs, that gives vertiginous deapth to even his lighter tunes, and a mesmerizing peek into his melancholic world.

Short and straightfoward, his romantic lyrics cast a wonderfully poetic veil upon the audience.