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Joe Jackson Biography

Home > Music > J > Jackson, Joe > Biography

Birth Name: David Ian Jackson
Born: 1954/08/11
Birth Place: Burton upon Trent, England
Years Active: 1978-present
Genres: Punk Rock, Ska, New Wave, Pop, Power Pop, Jazz, Classical Music

Joe Jackson was born August 11, 1954, in Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire, England, and is a musician and singer-songwriter. Jackson's style of music began with a fusion of pop/rock and new wave, before switching to a more eclectic, pop/jazz/classical sound throughout the latter part of his career.

Jackson began violin lessons at an early age, but switched to piano fairly quickly, which he became proficient at. At the age of 16 he was playing piano in local pubs before winning a scholarship to study musical composition at London's Royal Academy of Music. After graduating from music school, Jackson played in a number of local bands until he began to record his own demo tapes.

In 1978, one of his demos was heard by an A&M rep and he was signed to the label shortly thereafter. His debut album, “Look Sharp!” appeared in 1979, quickly followed up by “I'm the Man” that year and “Beat Crazy” in 1980. A year later in 1981, Jackson tried his hand at producing for the band The Keys, followed by an extensive tour with his own band. Once returning from the tour, Jackson took some time away from the music world.

Jackson reemerged in 1982 with an old-style swing and blues album, “Jumpin' Jive,” which featured covers of songs by Cab Calloway, Lester Young, Glenn Miller, and Louis Jordan. “Night and Day” followed in the same year, which paid tribute to Cole Porter. The album peaked at #4 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart and at #3 on the U.K. Albums chart.

Jackson moved to New York City during the 1980s and became influenced by the sights and sounds of the city as well as the music that originated from the streets there. “Body and Soul” arrived in 1984, heavily influences by jazz and salsa sounds. 1986 marked a collaboration with Suzanne Vega on the single “Left of Center” from the soundtrack to the movie “Pretty in Pink.”

For the remainder of the 1980s, Jackson, while maintaining moderate success, began to move away from the pop scene. 1999 marked the release of Jackson's “Symphony No. 1,” an instrumental album that he recorded with his new quartet of musicians. The album earned Jackson a Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Album.

2003 saw Jackson’s album, “Volume 4,” emerge which was followed by a tour with his quartet, which consisted of Jackson, Graham Maby, Dave Houghton and Gary Sanford. 2008 saw the release of Jackson's album, “Rain” on Rykodisc Records.