Chuck Jackson, soul balladeer, dies at 85

Chuck Jackson, a hitmaking soul singer of the Nineteen Sixties who mixed a suave stage presence, laid-back romantic attraction and a rafter-filling voice and who recorded a few of Burt Bacharach’s earliest pop compositions, died Feb. 16 in Atlanta. He was 85.

Ady Croasdell of the British file label Kent, which reissued a number of of Mr. Jackson’s recordings, confirmed his demise in a Facebook assertion however did present additional particulars.

Mr. Jackson’s first hit, “I Don’t Want To Cry” (1961), co-written with Luther Dixon and reportedly impressed by an untrue girlfriend, climbed to No. 5 on the Billboard rhythm-and-blues charts and was adopted by an album of the identical title dedicated to tear-themed lyrics.

It was the start of a profitable string of early-Nineteen Sixties hits that included “I Wake Up Crying,” written by Bacharach and Hal David, “Tell Him I’m Not Home,” “Beg Me” and his duet with Maxine Brown on “Something You Got.”

Mr. Jackson’s biggest business success was “Any Day Now” (1962), which Bacharach wrote with lyricist Bob Hilliard. The track dealt poetically with the anticipation of loneliness over an impending breakup.

Aficionados regard these recordings by Mr. Jackson — made for Wand Records — as the top of the ’60s New York studio rhythm-and-blues sound. Wand’s pool of freelance expertise included the songwriter-and-producer crew of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, Barbadian-born arranger Teacho Wiltshire, and Bacharach.

Mr. Jackson’s information additionally benefited from the backup vocals of Cissy Houston, sisters Dionne and Dee Dee Warwick, in addition to Judy Clay and Doris Troy, all of whom had earlier sang within the gospel group the Drinkard Singers.

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Leiber and Stoller used odd instrumentations on Mr. Jackson’s information to dramatic impact, similar to a mix of marimba, tambourine and triangle on “Who’s Gonna Pick Up the Pieces” or log drums on “I Keep Forgettin’” of their seek for a synthesis of pop and soul.

In 1982, former Doobie Brothers singer Michael McDonald, an admirer of Mr. Jackson, recorded “I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near),” a track with the same melody and new lyrics — so related that Leiber and Stoller got co-writer credit with McDonald and his co-writer, Ed Sanford.

Burt Bacharach, prolific composer of pop hits, dies at 94

Mr. Jackson noticed his profession begin to decline after he fell out with Wand label proprietor Florence Greenberg. He claimed that she rejected the songs “It’s Not Unusual” by Les Reed and Gordon Mills in addition to “What’s New Pussycat” by Bacharach and David.

To his dismay, the songwriters pitched their work elsewhere, and each tunes grew to become career-making signatures for the then-obscure Welsh pop singer Tom Jones.

“Tom came over to the States and spent a great deal of time with me,” Mr. Jackson informed the Los Angeles Reader in 1990. “I took him to the Apollo for a week. When we first met, he had no rhythm at all, and he knew it, but he sure could sing. The next time I saw him on TV, he was like a completely different person, he projected rhythm and soul, he’d become a real artist, he was singing like he meant it.”

At the behest of Motown’s Smokey Robinson, Mr. Jackson signed with the Detroit label in 1968. In his estimation, the corporate did little to advertise him.

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“Looking back now, though, I understand where it all went wrong,” Mr. Jackson informed the British publication Blues and Soul in 1976. “Motown is a sound and they have to mold talent to suit that sound. … They were renowned for creating their own artists and, if you give it some thought, you’d be hard pushed to find any established artist who has joined the company and gone on to bigger things.”

He recorded an album of duets with Houston in 1992 — the identical yr he acquired the Rhythm & Blues Foundation Pioneer Award — and made a duet recording with Dionne Warwick, “If I Let Myself Go,” in 1997. Mr. Jackson lengthy maintained a following in England, the place his Wand information had lengthy been favorites of the mod and northern soul music subcultures.

Charles Benjamin Jackson was born in Winston Salem, N.C, on July 22, 1937. He stated he by no means knew his father and, when his mom moved to Pittsburgh to work, he stayed with a grandmother in Latta, S.C.

He appeared on the radio singing gospel music by age 6 and was singing lead in a choir by 11. He briefly attended the traditionally Black South Carolina State College (now college) on a music scholarship however then left for Pittsburgh within the mid-Fifties due to civil rights unrest close to campus.

In 1957, he recorded with the Pittsburgh doo-wop act the Del-Vikings — or no less than, one model of the group, which had cut up into two competing models with the identical title. (The group with Mr. Jackson ultimately rebranded because the Versatiles.) While on tour, he befriended singer Jackie Wilson, who pushed him to go solo and turn out to be Wilson’s assist act.

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Mr. Jackson’s spouse, Helen Cash, died in 2013, and a daughter died in 2021. Survivors embrace two kids and three grandchildren.

To the Los Angeles Reader, Mr. Jackson recalled his sense of showmanship. While performing “Any Day Now” at Washington’s Howard Theatre in his heyday, he stated he saved a pigeon in his dressing room and gave orders to the stagehand to maintain the fowl inside the singer’s simple attain.

“I moved over to the side of the stage, and he put the pigeon in my hand,” Mr. Jackson stated. “The audience didn’t know what was gonna happen. When I got to the part where I sang, ‘Oh, my wild, beautiful bird, you will have flown …’ I let him go. That place went wild!”

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