The Story A Word From Brian Chatton Musicians Discography Notes Links

JACKSON HEIGHTS (a web page by Jim Sutherland)

(1970 - 1971) (1971 - 1973)

 


The Story

When Keith Emerson disbanded The Nice, Lee Jackson decided to hang up his bass guitar and go back to 'simpler' music. With this in mind he gathered together some musicians he had known for a number of years: Charlie Harcourt, Tommy Sloane and Mario Tapia. The result being the first Jackson Heights album King Progress, on which Jackson sang and played acoustic guitar. The standout tracks are 'Mr Screw' and a reworking of the old Nice song 'The Cry of Eugene'. It did not sell in any great numbers. The band started to drift apart and Jackson's next recruitment began.

Joining him were John McBurnie and Brian Chatton, both multi-instrumentalists. He did not, however, recruit a drummer. The band was now a trio with Jackson playing bass, sounds familiar! McBurnie took over the majority of the writing with all three sharing the vocals and a second Album The Fifth Avenue Bus, was recorded with Mike Giles on drums. At this stage the band was touring as a trio, without a drummer. There are no outstanding tracks on the album and once again there was a lack of commercial success.

Undaunted, writing and recording of the next album, with Brian Chatton now contributing to the song writing, began. The resulting album Ragamuffins Fool, was easily their best so far. There was almost a hit single with 'Maureen' and the overall sound was of a band confident in what they were doing. Again most of the drumming was done by Mike Giles. They toured, again without a drummer, and recorded their only Radio One Session in support of the album. It what was becoming inevitable it did not sell.

By now Lee Jackson was getting a bit downhearted and poorer, he was using his own money to keep the band solvent. The master plan was the dreaded 'Concept Album'. The theme was to be about the lives of the 'ladies' who worked in Burlesque theatre. It didn't quite work out that way but, armed with two drummers, Mike Giles and Ian Wallace, and a 20 piece orchestra they went into the studio and recorded Bump 'n' Grind. The publicity machine went into overdrive and the actual record was presented in a deluxe laminated sleeve. Even the record company wanted this one to be big! Guess what? that's right - it bombed.

A major problem in touring with the album was reproducing the orchestral sound. Jackson approached Patrick Moraz, Swiss keyboard wizard with a view to him touring with the band. He declined but suggested Jackson might consider forming a band with him. Moraz had the record deal and other finances in place. In view of his own 'money problems' Jackson agreed and with Moraz and ex Nice drummer Brian 'Blinkey' Davison formed Refugee.

Jackson Heights ceased to exist, leaving a legacy of four underated albums. I miss them.

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A Word From Brian Chatton

I joined the band in 71, immediately following being in a band called Flaming Youth, which consisted of 4 members, one of which was Phil Collins. I had been used to complex arrangements, and so I found Jackson Heights to be quite simplistic in it's content, yet still challenging because it was only a three piece, and lets face it, one of the members had been playing with arguably the greatest keyboard player of that era.

Speaking of Keith, he became a very close friend, and after attending many of our gigs, gigs that certainly lit a fire up my arse I'll tell you, his family and mine went on to live together in Kensington for around 14 years.

Jackson Heights was extremely important in my career, because it demanded 100 % from me every day. I not only ended up writing many of their songs, but I was the only musician in the band who by the nature of what instrument I played, was capable of performing all the solo's, all the instrumental breaks, including all intro's, sing harmonies in all the songs, and also occasionally sing lead vocals to boot.

We often found ourselves headlining at festivals, at the mercy of the wind and weather. Our music was predominantly acoustic, with long spells of perhaps only one or two instruments, so we were conspicuously quiet, and sometimes had to settle for entertaining the cows in the next field, depending on the direction of the wind. Other bands would be horrified at the prospect of performing in the way we did, because of-course most of the other bands would include electric guitars, drums and bass, and to do what we did, to them, was like going on stage without clothes !!

I did find that I could incorporate a lot of the classical training I'd had since I was 6 years old. That, coupled with the rock style influences that had surrounded me for over a decade, propelled me into the next two decades of very fulfilling work as a session musician in and around London. Our audiences were the same as the audiences that attended ELP gigs, Genesis, Yes, so I soon realised, during gigs, I could not afford the luxury of doing anything that got me the slightest bit high, including alcohol. It proved to be a discipline that I decided to keep throughout the rest of my career, and I'm convinced helped me to accomplish far more, because of it. (AFTER GIGS WAS A DIFFERENT STORY OF-COURSE).

We eventually, built the reputation of being a bit of a groups-group around the London scene, so when we were recording, we had no problem finding the right guys for the job. The three albums I was involved with, were an absolute joy for me as both a writer and a player. The material was diverse enough to appeal to all kinds of listeners. Even now I receive emails from people telling me they used some of the songs at their weddings etc. and are still listening.

I'll never forget these two smallish guys who roadied for us, they would have to carry a piano around to each gig, sometimes two a day up several flights of rickety staircases, and then set up and engineer or work the lights until they had to do it all over again, including of-course driving sometimes 6 or 7 hundred miles between shows. The most amazing thing about that was they never missed a step when it came to (nurse, where's my medicine time). Hey maybe they couldn't have done it at all without ?

I eventually left to form a band for Jon Anderson and his record label Fragile, called in fact Fragile, and after a few months, hooked back up with John McBurnie, who I still call my best mate, and visit with him whenever I can. Jackson Heights replaced me with Patrick Moraz, but I believe Lee got fed up with it all soon after, and retired from the business. An interesting foot note to that, was that the band was Patrick's initiation to the British music scene, and he told me to get a feel for what was going on in England at that time, he decided he would learn to play every note I had recorded on the last album I had recorded, so he could adapt his style accordingly !

I still am enormously flattered by it, as in my mind he is and always will be, a tremendous cheese board player.

Cheers Brian (2nd Nov 2000).

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The Musicians

BRIAN CHATTON - keyboards, vocals
date of birth -

birthplace -

previous bands - The Warriors, Flaming Youth

 

CHARLIE HARCOURT - electric & acoustic guitars, keyboards,vocals
date of birth -

birthplace -

previous bands -

 

LEE JACKSON - bass and acoustic 6 & 12 string guitars, percussion, harp, vocals
date of birth - 8th Jan 1943

birthplace - Newcastle upon Tyne

previous bands - Gary Farr and The T Bones, The Nice

 

JOHN McBURNIE - acoustic 6 &12 string guitars, melletron, percussion, vocals
date of birth -

birthplace -

previous bands -

 

TOMMY SLOANE - drums & percussion
date of birth -

birthplace -

previous bands -

 

MARIO TAPIA - bass & spanish guitars, vocals
date of birth -

birthplace -

previous bands -

 

MIKE GILES - drums, percussion  
date of birth - 1st Mar 1942

birthplace - Southampton?

previous bands - Giles Giles & Fripp, King Crimson, session work

 

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Discography

Albums

KING PROGRESS - CHARISMA CAS 1018 (1970) 35'37"
SIDE ONE

Mr Screw

Since I Last Saw You

Sunshine Freak

King Progress

SIDE TWO

Doubting Thomas

Insomnia

Cry Of Eugene

J

 

THE FIFTH AVENUE BUS - VERTIGO 6360 067 (1972) 40'54"
SIDE ONE

Tramp

Dog Got Bitten

Autumn Brigade

Long Time Dying

Sweet Hill Tunnel

SIDE TWO

Laughing Gear

House In The Country

Rent A Friend

Luxford

Pastor Roger

 

RAGAMUFFINS FOOL - VERTIGO 6360 077 (1972) 40'09"
A SIDE

Maureen

Oh You Beauty

As She Starts

BeBop

Catch A Thief

B SIDE

Ragamuffins Fool

Chorale (Five Bridges Suite)

Chips and Chicken

Poor Peter

Bellyfull of Water

 

BUMP 'n' GRIND - VERTIGO 6360 092 (1973) 33'50"
SIDE ONE

I Could Be Your Orchestra

Spaghetti Sunshine

Long Necked Lady

Public Romance

Bump and Grind

SIDE TWO

Cumberland County

It's A Shame

Ladies In The Chorus

Whatever Happened To The Conversation

J

 

Singles (incomplete)

Doubting Thomas / ? - CHARISMA JH1 (1970)

Maureen / Long Time Dying - VERTIGO (1972)

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Notes

As you can see there are lots of gaps just waiting to be filled. If you have any information and/or comments please contact me using the following link.

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Links

Some related and unrelated sites.

Brian Chatton

Peter Hammill

Clydebank FC

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