It is with great sadness that I found out that the great Jackie Leven had passed away. I feel numb and will try to explain in a bit. I knew the man had been ill,suffering from cancer but thought he'd get through it, like he had got past many other demons.
An idiosyncratic outsider with a magical voice, a poet who saw the world through his rich different eyes, he sang songs fron the heart of lifes deep experiences. If you have never heard of him his songs typically described hard drinking loners and often their lost lovers, with a rich deep resonant voice that used to soothe me, when I too was lost, like a dark chocolate laced with something bad.
His was a wild Scottish spirit redolant of a fire within. Never fashionable or cool but that did not stop him being admired by many.Born to Gypsy Blood in Kirkcaldy, Fife, Scotland with a London Irish father and a Northumbriam mother. A loner in childhood, he led a life of an intinerent wanderer. He found his way to London by the mid 70s forming the band Doll by Doll whose records had a certain rawness but ones I still reach out too.
Doll by Doll - Main Travelled Roads
By 1982, they'd split and in 1983 he was nearly murdered by a group of strangers severely damaging his larynx and unable to play guitar or sing. He sank into a despondent place , cutting himself adrift, finding heroin and alcohol , and so perhaps it might have ended. But he reemerged stonger founding the CORE trust which helped fellow addicts. His songs have rescued me from many a dark hour, soothed me with their raw tenderness. His work took on a soulful, spritual intensity, redemptive , haunted,becomming prolific in his journey, releasing for me a series of staggering dazzling solo records, full of tragedy, but resonating with warmth that somehow I connected to. Other friends of mine, never quite got him, but that did not matter, his records became like certain books, ones to treasure. Live I was lucky to catch him twice he dislayed his honesty, mixed with humour and candour.Always a brooding intensity, you got what you got, what must of us wanted, never an encore and never fake.
Tonight on the way home from the library I'll raise a small miniature bottle of whiskey to the night air. A True original voice has been lost, but some of us will continue to remember him.Such beautiful music, burning vision. Goodnight Jackie, R.I.P
Jackie Leven- Hidden World of She
Jackie Leven- Call Mother a Lonely Field
Jackie Leven - Revenge of Memory
Jackie Levem - I Say a little Prayer