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Jackie Lomax: 1944-2013

Veteran of Merseybeat, The Undertakers and Apple dies back in Wallasey birthplace

Written by . Published on September 17th 2013.


Jackie Lomax: 1944-2013
 

JACKIE Lomax, guitarist with The Undertakers, whose bluesy vocals earned him the full might of the Beatles backing and an Apple recording deal, has died at the age of 69. 

His 50-year music career took him around the globe, settling for the last few decades in California. Yet his passing was back in his birthplace of Wallasey at the weekend, where he had returned to attend a family wedding. 

UndertakersUndertakersJackie Lomax was the nearly man in The Beatles' Camelot. His debut single, a powerhouse version of George’s Sour Milk Sea, in 1968, was one of Apple's first releases. Yet despite a backing band that included George Harrison, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton and Klaus Voormann, it went nowhere, confounding the group and the label. 

Similarly, his solo album for Apple, Is This What You Want?, produced by George Harrison, reached only #145 in the Billboard Charts. 

Born in May, 1944, Lomax grew up blessed with an earthy, soulful R&B voice, and notable songwriting skills.

He was a contemporary of The Beatles in early 1960s, even sitting in with them on drums (who didn't?) during one gig at the Grosvenor Ballroom as a 16-year-old. 

His first band was Dee & the Dynamites, but he was principally known as the distinctive face and voice of the R&B group, The Undertakers. 

BalladBalladLike The Beatles, The Undertakers cut their teeth in Hamburg, Germany, and in 1964, after signing to Pye Records, they scored a minor UK hit with Just A Little Bit. 

Later on, Lomax was briefly managed by Brian Epstein, before his big moment with Apple where he was initially signed as a songwriter. 

“We tried and tried,” said Beatles associate Tony Bramwell. “The material was great but we just couldn't get it to fly ... We had super production by George Harrison. It looked good, sounded good – and didn't work.”

But like so many other musicians, it was just part of the business and Lomax moved on.

In the 1970s he split his time between Britain and the US and worked in several bands, including The Lomax Alliance, before relocating permanently to America in 1978, living in Oja, California, where he was married to Norma Kessler, mother of fashion photographer and music video director Terry Richardson. She died last year. 

In the intervening decades he continued to work as a session guitarist and also played bass on tour with groups including The Drifters and The Coasters. When work dried up he would take any job. The Los Angeles Times once reported how he was working as a maitre d' in a restaurant but took it all in his stride. 

"This is what I picked," Lomax said. "You just have to accept, as I learned a long time ago, that you won't be busy and hyper-successful all the time. There are cycles when things are up and cycles when things are down, just as in life." 

He also refused to cash in on his Beatles connections, telling reporters, "Trying to cash in on that would be like trying to stretch a string a mile. I'm English — I can't just go around telling people how great I am." 

Jackie Lomax By Gerard FlemingJackie Lomax By Gerard Fleming

In 2001, Lomax released ‘The Ballad of Liverpool Slim’ LP. He said: “I don’t want to sound like anybody else … If you don’t write your own material, you’re kind of wasting your time. I think originality is the focus of the game, you know?” 

He continued to pop up in Liverpool, playing the final Mathew Street Festival with The Undertakers in 2012. He had returned in July to attend the wedding of one of his daughters and stayed until his death. 

An official Statement, released by his family, reads:

"Jackie Lomax, recording artist, songwriter, performer, died yesterday (September 15) at the family home after a brief illness. He died peacefully in his sleep with his family around him. 

NewbrightonBack in Wallasey"Jackie was born in Merseyside and was an original member of The Undertakers and a recording artist at Apple Studios. 

"His career spanned fifty years and he will be sorely missed." 

Lomax is survived by three daughters from his first marriage to Dionne Lomax and five grandchildren. 

At the time of his death, according to his website, he had recently finished a new album titled Against All Odds. 

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Reader XxxSeptember 18th 2013.

I met Jackie only once - at an exhibition of photographs by Astrid Kircherr. He said he was one of the Undertakers but I didn't take the opportunity to find out more. Pity. He seems to have been a man comfortable in his own skin. Sincere condolences to his loved ones.

AnonymousSeptember 18th 2013.

And so it begins

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