"When I was 21 years old I was awarded $100,000 in insurance money. At the time, it was a small fortune. John Kay and I took off to Toronto and we tried to spend as much money as fast as possible. I bought a Jaguar straight out of a showroom. We went all over the Northeast dropping into clubs and meeting musicians. We were heavily into the blues back then. We listened a lot to John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, Sonny Terry, Brownie McGee, and the Library of Congress collection of blues artists."On a car-shopping trip to London in 1965, Frank met Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, and soon after was recording Jackson C. Frank with Simon as producer. The scars from his childhood trauma remained.
"I recorded my album in under three hours in a CBS studio on New Bond Street in London. I remember hiding behind a screen while I was singing and playing, because I was just a little nervous and I didn't want anyone to see me."Al Stewart was also in the studio.
"It was probably the strangest recording session I've ever been to," Stewart says. "Even when Paul would say 'OK we're ready,' often this would be followed by two or three minutes of total silence while he [Jackson] psyched himself into singing. And then this beautiful guitar and voice would emerge.The album featured ten tracks, the first of which was released as Frank's only single: "Blues Run The Game" - "Don't Look Back" - "Kimbie" - "Yellow Walls" - "Here Come the Blues" - "Milk and Honey" - "My Name Is Carnival" - "I Want To Be Alone (Dialogue)" - "Just Like Anything" - "You Never Wanted Me."
[W]hile his mother was in hospital for open heart surgery, Jackson announced that he was going to New York City - a journey of about 370 miles - to look for Paul Simon. By the time his mother was home, he was gone with no forwarding address. Bank transactions made her think for a while that he must be living in downtown Buffalo. But then the withdrawals stopped, and she concluded her son must be dead.Frank made it to New York, but never found his old friend. Poverty and a history of mental illness led to run-ins with city authorities.
"I had a heartbreak," Jackson says, referring principally to the child he'd lost from cystic fibrosis. "I couldn't go back to it. I didn't have a guitar. I was being denied my rights. I was being told I was paranoid schizophrenic and treated for it, which I wasn't - it was all trauma related."In the early 1990s, a music fan named Jim Abbott rescued Frank, and brought him to Woodstock, New York.
"When I went down I hadn't seen a picture of him except for his album cover," Abbott says. "Then he was thin and young. When I went to see him, there was this heavy guy hobbling down the street, and I thought that can't possibly be him... I just stopped and said, 'Jackson?' and it was him. My impression was, 'Oh my God,' It was almost like the Elephant Man or something. He was so unkempt, dishevelled.Abbott found Frank a place to live in Woodstock, but not before Frank suffered one more traumatic incident in the city. In an apparently random incident, he was shot by a kid with a pellet gun, leaving him blind in the left eye.
"He had nothing. It was really sad. We went and had lunch and went back to his room. It almost made me cry, because here was a 50-year-old man and all he had to his name was a beat-up old suitcase and a broken pair of glasses. I guess his caseworker had given him a $10 guitar, but it wouldn't stay in tune. It was one of those hot summer days. He tried to play Blues Run The Game for me, but his voice was pretty much shot."
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