Jackson C. Frank
It seemed tragedy always stalked Jackson C. Frank (born in 1943). A school furnace explosion took 15 of his 11-year-old classmates. Burns ravaged over 50% of his body, serious damage occurred to his thyroid, and he suffered severe depression from then on. Later, he was given a guitar during his recovery, and learned his craft.
“Catch a Boat”
Jackson would “catch a boat” (lyric from his “Blues Run the Game“) to England (from New York) in 1964. He received over $110,000 as an insurance settlement from the elementary school explosion upon turning 21. He recorded his only album, self-titled “Jackson C. Frank“, in 1965. Paul Simon produced it. Art Garfunkel and Al Stewart were there, too. Frank was so self-conscious, he would insist on being surrounded by screens while recording. I believe it’s a masterpiece. If you liked the early 60’s folk scene, check it out. Even if you didn’t, check it out!
During this time, Jackson dated Sandy Denny (later from Fairport Convention), and convinced her to give up a nursing career for singing full-time. She wrote the haunting “Who Knows Where the Time Goes“, later covered by Judy Collins and many others.
Unravelling, Jackson C. Frank was soon followed by more tragedy. He settled in Woodstock, New York,married, and had a son and daughter. His son died of cystic fibrosis, and he had to go to a mental institution for depression’s devastating effects.
Jackson was eventually treated for paranoid schizophrenia, and spent the rest of his life trying to overcome this (as well as many physical problems). His music had degenerated into unlistenable angry confusion.
The final years of Jackson C. Frank were filled with psychiatric institutions, homelessness, and even having an eye shot out while sitting on a bench. His once-promising life ended at 56 years (March 3, 1999), but he was a tremendous influence on many musicians to come.
His only album is deeply inspiring. I am grateful to have heard it.
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