George Jackson: Songwriter who penned hundreds of soul, rock and r'n'b tunes


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The Independent Online

George Jackson, who died in his Mississippi home on 14 April at the age of 68 after a year-long struggle against cancer, was the co-author of "Old Time Rock and Roll" and hundreds of other soul, rock and rhythm and blues tunes. Jackson recorded dozens of singles in the 1960s but made his mark as a writer, beginning with FAME Studios. He later was a songwriter for Muscle Shoals Sound Studios. When Malaco bought Muscle Shoals Sound, it hired Jackson to write songs.

Jackson had been writing songs by the time he was in his teens. It was Ike Turner who brought him to the New Orleans r'n'b pioneer Cosimo Matassa's studio in 1963, where he recorded his first song. "George had hooks coming out of his ears," said Wolf Stephenson, Malaco's vice president and chief engineer. "They weren't all hits, but I never heard him write a bad song. He never really got the recognition that's normally due a writer of his stature."

The Osmonds recorded Jackson's "One Bad Apple" in 1970, taking it to No 1 in the US. Jackson and Thomas Jones III wrote "Old Time Rock and Roll", which Bob Seger recorded in 1978. Stephenson said "Old Time Rock and Roll" is truly Jackson's song, and he has the tapes to prove it, despite Seger's claims that he altered it.

"Bob had pretty much finished his recording at Muscle Shoals and he asked them if they had any other songs he could listen to for the future," Stephenson recalled.

Besides Seger, the Osmonds and Ike and Tina Turner, Jackson's songs were also recorded by James Brown, Wilson Pickett and Clarence Carter. Later he wrote "Down Home Blues" for ZZ Hill, a song which was a keystone for Malaco. The Mississippi label is a storehouse of soul, rhythm and blues and gospel music.

"He had a way of seeing things about life and saying them in a way that a lot of other people could relate to," said Thomas Couch, Malaco's chairman.

Jackson's own vocal performances were mainly scattered over singles, although some have been collected into albums, including a 2011 reissue of his FAME recordings, Don't Count Me Out, which won critical acclaim. That and other compilations were aimed part lyat fans in the UK, where Jackson had a strong following.