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Joe Jackson on Rockpalast in 1980
Joe Jackson on Rockpalast in 1980
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Joe Jackson on Wikipedia
Joe Jackson
Joe-Jackson3.jpgJackson performing in Arizona, July 1982
Background information
Birth nameDavid Ian Jackson
Born(1954-08-11) 11 August 1954 (age 62)
Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire, England
GenresPunk rock, ska , new wave, jazz pop, jazz, classical
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter, author
InstrumentsVocals, piano, keyboards, saxophone
Years active1970–present
LabelsA&M, Sony

David Ian "Joe" Jackson (born 11 August 1954) is an English musician and singer-songwriter.[1] After years of studying music and playing clubs, Jackson's first release, "Is She Really Going Out with Him?" became a hit in 1979. This was followed by a number of new wave singles before he moved to more jazz-inflected pop music and had a Top 10 hit in 1982 with "Steppin' Out". He has also composed classical music. He has recorded 19 studio albums and garnered 5 Grammy Award nominations throughout the course of his career.[2]


  • 1 Biography
    • 1.1 Early years
    • 1.2 Joe Jackson Band
    • 1.3 Post pop
    • 1.4 Personal life
    • 1.5 Other activities
  • 2 Discography
    • 2.1 Studio albums
    • 2.2 Live albums
    • 2.3 Compilation albums
    • 2.4 Video albums
    • 2.5 Singles
  • 3 References
  • 4 Notes
  • 5 Literature
  • 6 External links

Early years

Born in Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire, David Jackson spent his first year in nearby Swadlincote, Derbyshire. He grew up in the Paulsgrove area of Portsmouth, where he attended the Portsmouth Technical High School. Jackson's parents moved to nearby Gosport when he was a teenager. Jackson learned to play the violin but soon switched to piano and prevailed on his father to install one in the hall of their Paulsgrove council house. Jackson began playing piano in bars at the age of 16, and he also won a scholarship to study musical composition at London's Royal Academy of Music.

Jackson's first band, formed in Gosport, was called Edward Bear,[note 1] later renamed Edwin Bear and then Arms and Legs, but the band broke up in 1976 after two unsuccessful singles. He was still known as David Jackson while in Arms and Legs, but around this time he picked up the nickname "Joe", based on his perceived resemblance to the puppet character Joe Piano, who was Snoopy in Joe Cool guise playing piano.[3] Jackson then spent some time performing on the cabaret circuit to make money to record a demo.

Joe Jackson Band

In 1978, a record producer heard Jackson's demo tape and signed him to A&M Records. The next year the newly formed Joe Jackson Band released their debut album, Look Sharp!, its mix of energetic New Wave rock and bitter British punk similar to his contemporaries Elvis Costello and Graham Parker. The album enjoyed wide critical success: in 2013 Rolling Stone magazine named Look Sharp! number 98 in a list of the 100 best debut albums of all time. Some commercial success also followed, as the debut single "Is She Really Going Out with Him?" reached the top 40 in 5 countries, and no. 9 in Canada.

The Joe Jackson Band released I'm the Man in 1979. The album followed a similar musical pattern, and received good, though not as strong, reviews. It did produce the single "It's Different for Girls", which became Jackson's highest charting UK single, peaking at no. 5.[4] Beat Crazy followed in 1980. Jackson also collaborated with Lincoln Thompson in reggae crossover.[citation needed]

In 1981, Jackson produced an album for the British power pop group The Keys. The Keys Album was the group's only LP.[5] The Joe Jackson Band toured extensively until it broke up. Jackson subsequently recorded an album of old-style swing and blues tunes, Jumpin' Jive, with songs by Cab Calloway, Lester Young, Glenn Miller, and Louis Jordan. The album, and associated single release, was credited to the band Joe Jackson's Jumpin' Jive.[2]

Jackson's 1982 album Night and Day was his only studio album to reach either the UK or US Top 10, peaking at No. 3 (UK)[4] and at No. 4 (US).[6] Two singles released from the album, "Steppin' Out" and "Breaking Us in Two", were US top 20 hits.[7] The tracks "Real Men" and "A Slow Song" referred obliquely to New York City's early 1980s gay culture.[8] "Real Men" also became a top 10 hit in Australia.[9]

By 1984, New York had become Jackson's home base, and he recorded Body and Soul there; an album he later said was "from the point of view of a relative newcomer".[10] Heavily influenced by pop and jazz standards and salsa, it had the US No. 15 hit single "You Can't Get What You Want (Till You Know What You Want)".[7]

In 1985 Jackson played piano on Joan Armatrading's album Secret Secrets, and in 1986 he collaborated with Suzanne Vega on the single "Left of Center" from Pretty in Pink's soundtrack. Jackson's next album was Big World, with all-new songs recorded live in front of an audience instructed to remain silent while music was playing. Released in 1986, it was 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". The instrumental album Will Power (1987), with heavy classical and jazz influences, set the stage for things to come later, but before he left pop behind, he put out two more albums, Blaze of Glory (which he performed in its entirety during the subsequent tour) and Laughter & Lust. In 1995, Jackson contributed his version of "Statue of Liberty" on a tribute album for the English band XTC called A Testimonial Dinner: The Songs of XTC.

Post pop

In the late 1990s Jackson expanded into classical music; he signed with Sony Classical in 1997 and released Symphony No. 1 in 1999, for which he received a Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Album in 2001.[11]

In 2003, he reunited his original quartet[2] for the album Volume 4, and a lengthy tour. In 2004, he contributed a cover of Pulp's "Common People" with William Shatner for Shatner's album Has Been. In 2005 he teamed up with Todd Rundgren and the string quartet ETHEL for a tour of the US & Europe. A dedicated smoker, he gave up his New York apartment in 2006 partly in protest over the ascendancy of smoking bans, and made the Berlin neighbourhood Kreuzberg his new home. It was there that he recorded, with longtime collaborators Graham Maby and Dave Houghton, his eighteenth studio album, Rain (Rykodisc, January 2008); the album was followed by a five-month tour.[12]

In 2015, Jackson announced the completion on his follow-up to 2012's The Duke via his official website. The album's title, Fast Forward, and track list were confirmed in addition to North American tour dates. The titular first single was released for streaming via his official Soundcloud page. The entire record was briefly posted before being taken down a day later.[13]

Personal life

Jackson was married to his wife, Ruth, for two years, but the marriage ended in divorce and was later called a "disaster" by Jackson.[14]

Other activities

Jackson has actively campaigned against smoking bans in both the United States and the United Kingdom, publishing a 2005 pamphlet (The Smoking Issue)[15] and a 2007 essay (Smoke, Lies and the Nanny State),[16] and recording a satirical song ("In 20-0-3") on the subject.[17]

Jackson wrote an autobiography called A Cure For Gravity, published in 1999, which he 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 insisted, was hardly worth writing about.[18]

Live albums

  • Big World (1986) - a studio album recorded before a live audience, asked to remain quiet so no applause or chat-ups.
  • Live 1980/86 (1988 A&M Records) - with live recordings from the Beat Crazy, the Night & Day, the Body & Soul and the Big World tours. No. 91 US, No. 66 UK, No. 17 AUS[9]
  • Summer in the City: Live in New York (2000, Sony) - with live recordings from August 1999.
  • Two Rainy Nights (2002, Great Big Island) - with live recordings from April 2001 in Seattle WA and Portland OR.
  • Volume 4 bonus CD (2003, Rykodisc) - with live recordings from the 2002 UK concert tour as a bonus CD in the limited edition of the "Volume 4" album.
  • AfterLife (2004, Rykodisc) - with live recordings from August 2003 at The Fillmore in San Francisco, CA, at House of Blues in Los Angeles CA and in Anaheim CA, and at 4th and B in San Diego CA.
  • At the BBC (2009, UMG Recordings, Inc.) - with live recordings from a Peel Session on 21 February 1979 and from performances on 29 November 1979 in Hertfordshire, on 15 August 1982 in Hammersmith, and on 22 January 1983 in Hitchin.
  • Live Music - Europe 2010 (2011, Razor & Tie) - with live recordings from October and November 2010 in Alençon and Brest (France), Basel (Switzerland), Amsterdam (Netherlands and in Cologne and Berlin (Germany).
  • Live in Germany 1980 (2011 Immortal) - with live recordings at the WDR Studio in Cologne, Germany on 14 March 1980.
  • Live at Rockpalast (2012 MIG Music (Sony Music)) - with live recordings from 14 March 1980 in Cologne, Germany; from 21 February 1983 in Hamburg, Germany; and from 6 and 17 April 1983 in Essen, Germany.

Compilation albums

  • Stepping Out: The Very Best of Joe Jackson (1990) - No. 7 UK, No. 13 AUS[9]
  • Joe Jackson - Greatest Hits (1996)
  • This Is It! (The A&M Years 1979–1989) (1997, A&M Records)
  • Joe Jackson - Collected (2010, Universal)[2][23]
  • Steppin' Out - The Collection (2014, A&M Records)

Video albums

  • Steppin' Out: The Videos (The Very Best of Joe Jackson) (2001, A&M)[24]
  • Joe Jackson – 25th Anniversary Special (2003, Image Entertainment)[25]
  • Live at Rockpalast (2012), also available as a Double-CD set


  1. ^ "Allmusic biography". Retrieved 11 August 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 274. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  3. ^ Jackson, Joe. "A Cure for Gravity: A Musical Journey" 1 October 1999
  4. ^ a b c d "Official Charts > Joe Jackson". The Official UK Charts Company. Retrieved 4 December 2015. 
  5. ^ Mike Paulsen (2009). "The Keys : The Keys Album". New Wave Outpost. Archived from the original on 21 March 2011. Retrieved 21 March 2011. 
  6. ^ a b "Chart runs for Joe Jackson: US albums". Retrieved 4 December 2015. 
  7. ^ a b c "Billboard > Artists / Joe Jackson > The Hot 100". Billboard. Retrieved 4 December 2015. 
  8. ^ ""NPR Weekend Edition Sunday: Gay Pop Music", 22 June 2003". 22 June 2003. Retrieved 11 August 2010. 
  9. ^ a b c d e Australian chart peaks:
    • Top 100 (Kent Music Report) peaks to 19 June 1988, and "(He's a) Shape in a Drape": Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 151. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.  N.B. The Kent Report chart was licensed by ARIA from mid-1983 until 19 June 1988.
    • "Left of Centre" (Kent Music Report) peak: Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 329. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
    • Top 50 (ARIA Chart) peaks from 26 June 1988: " > Discography Joe Jackson". Hung Medien. Retrieved 4 December 2015. 
    • "Nineteen Forever" and "Stranger Than Fiction" (ARIA Chart) peaks: "Response from ARIA re: chart inquiry, received 5 June 2015". Imgur. Archived from the original on 5 June 2015. Retrieved 4 December 2015. 
    • Top 100 (ARIA Chart) peaks between January 1990 and December 2010: Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010. Mt. Martha, VIC, Australia: Moonlight Publishing. 
  10. ^ Bessman, Jim (14 October 2000). "Artists & Music: New York Inspires Joe Jackson Again on Night and Day II". Billboard. p. 24. Retrieved 21 February 2015. 
  11. ^ "Allmusic ((( Joe Jackson > Charts & Awards > Grammy Awards )))". 
  12. ^ McNair, James (11 February 2008). "Joe Jackson: Catching up with the maverick singer-songwriter". The Independent. Retrieved 20 February 2015. 
  13. ^ "FAST FORWARD: A NEW ALBUM + US TOUR DATES". Official Joe Jackson. Retrieved 14 August 2015. 
  14. ^ Jackson, Joe (24 June 2001). "Is Joe Jackson really going out with him?" Irish Independent. Retrieved 30 December 2014. Author is not to be confused with the subject of the article.
  15. ^ "The Smoking Issue". 8 May 2008. Archived from the original on 8 May 2008. Retrieved 10 April 2014. 
  16. ^ "Smoke, Lies and the Nanny State" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 December 2012. Retrieved 4 December 2015. 
  17. ^ "Joe". Joe Retrieved 11 August 2010. 
  18. ^ A Cure for Gravity, 1999, ISBN 1-86230-083-6
  19. ^ "Screen shot of search results for 'Joe Jackson' (albums)". Gfk Entertainment. Retrieved 4 December 2015. 
  20. ^ "Dutch Charts > Joe Jackson (albums) (in Dutch)". Retrieved 4 December 2015.  N.B. The chart run for "Night and Day II" is listed as a re-entry of the original "Night and Day" album. Its peak can be found by clicking the Chartrun drop down box.
  21. ^ a b " > Discography Joe Jackson". Hung Medien. Retrieved 4 December 2015. 
  22. ^ "Billboard > Artists / Joe Jackson > Billboard 200". Billboard. Retrieved 4 December 2015.  N.B. Peaks for albums released prior to "Big World" are not listed.
  23. ^ "Collected: Joe Jackson: Music". Retrieved 17 July 2011. 
  24. ^ "Steppin' Out – The Videos (The Very Best of Joe Jackson): Joe Jackson: Movies & TV". Retrieved 17 July 2011. 
  25. ^ "Joe Jackson – 25th Anniversary Special: Allison Cornell, Joe Jackman, Roberto Rodriguez, Joe Jackson, Graham Maby, Sue Hadjopolous, Andy Ezrin, Catherine Bent, Lee Cantelon: Movies & TV". Retrieved 17 July 2011. 
  26. ^ UK singles chart peak for "Real Men": "Chart runs for Joe Jackson". Retrieved 4 December 2015. 
  27. ^ "Screen shot of search results for 'Joe Jackson'". GfK Entertainment. Retrieved 4 December 2015. 
  28. ^ "Screen shot of search results for 'Joe Jackson'". Fireball Media. Retrieved 4 December 2015. 
  29. ^ Irish singles chart peak for "Left of Centre": "Screen shot of search results for 'Suzanne Vega'". Fireball Media. Retrieved 4 December 2015. 
  30. ^ " – Dutch charts portal". (in Dutch). Hung Medien / Retrieved 11 August 2010. 
  31. ^ US Billboard peak for "It's Different For Girls": "Chart runs for Joe Jackson: US Singles - Bubbling Under". Retrieved 4 December 2015. 
  32. ^ "Billboard > Artists / Joe Jackson > Alternative Songs". Billboard. Retrieved 4 December 2015. 
  33. ^ "Billboard > Artists / Joe Jackson > Mainstream Rock Tracks". Billboard. Retrieved 4 December 2015. 


  1. ^ Not to be confused with the band of the same name that disbanded in 1974.


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

External links

  • Joe Jackson at the Internet Movie Database
  • Official website
  • Joe Jackson archive by Andreas Wostrack
  • Audio interview with Joe Jackson on the Sodajerker On Songwriting podcast
  • 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

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