Jackie Lomax was a white soul singer and songwriter from Liverpool who, in his prime, processed a distinctive laid back Motown-inspired voice that, for the most part, went unheard outside of a few clued in hipsters. Lomax died earlier this month at age 69.
Lomax’s last major label album, and my personal favorite, was “Did You Ever Have a That Feeling?” released by Capitol Records in 1977. Despite the support of The Beatles and five solid solo albums made between 1969-77, Lomax never had any chart success whatsoever and failed to attract an audience in England and US, even though he was very popular in his hometown of Liverpool. That’s where he got his start in the mid-60’s as part of the then popular Mersey Beat sound becoming the lead singer and guitarist for The Undertakers who flogged the same UK and Germany club circuit their Liverpudlian pals, The Beatles, did.
Discovered by Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein, it was John Lennon who convinced the Fab Four’s then fledgling Apple Records to sign Lomax as one of their first artists. George Harrison wrote and produced Lomax’s first single, “Sour Milk Sea” backed by three fourths of the Beatles and Eric Clapton. The single ended up on Lomax’s 1969 Apple debut album “Is This What You Want?” also produced by Harrison, featuring an endless cast of well-known musicians. Harrison intended “Sour Milk Sea” for the Beatles’ White Album. It was the only song on his debut, Lomax didn’t write.
Unfortunately, the album tanked and so did it’s second single “How The Web Was Woven” written by Lomax. Next thing you know, The Beatles splintered and Apple Records floundered. So much for Jackie Lomax. In ’71 good fortunate shined again and he made two solid albums for Warner Bros. – “Home Is In My Head” and “Three”. Did any buy hear these? Noooooo. Once again, Lomax was back to zero.
Throughout the 70’s Lomax kept a low key profile, playing guitar and singing with other bands including a stint as lead vocalist in the second incarnation of the British group, Badger, who had ties with Yes. He retooled them with his own R&B soul sound and they released a decent final album, “White Lady”, produced by Allan Toussaint before the band split and went into permanent hibernation. Lomax was once again, chart less. Go Badger hunting online and you can listen to it.
By the time the 80’s rolled around, the singer relocated to Los Angeles, taking odd jobs and working in restaurants while raising a family and playing an occasional gig. Zip forward to 2001 and another solo ablum that didn’t see any light. Undaunted, Lomax continued to play here and there on the West Coast. He reunited with his old group The Undertakers for a couple of brief UK tours in ’06 and ’09.
Over the last decade, Lomax was still the rail thin longhaired soul shaker from Liverpool holding on to his fabled voice but he now favored cowboy garb and boss guitar blues licks just as he did on this night in San Diego in 2004 captured on the following video.
Jackie Lomax died on September 15th after a brief illness while attending a family gathering and his daughter’s wedding in England. He had just completed his first recording in over 12 years scheduled for release at the end of this year, eerily titled, “Against All Odds”. Lomax many not have been a chart buster, but he sure as heck knocked more than a few big ones out’a my park. – Eric Berg