He is a
singer-songwriter and musician born David Ian Jackson in Burton-on-Trent, England and raised in Portsmouth, England.
While he was
young he began performing on the violin but before long started to
gravitate towards the piano, so much so that his father put a piano into
their house in Paulsgrove, Portsmouth for him to play.
moved to Gosport during his teenage years where he continued
to play, appearing at local bars from around the time he was sixteen. This
led to him being awarded a scholarship for the Royal Academy of Music.
involved with several groups during his time at the Academy such as the
cover band The Misty Set and he also held membership with the National Jazz
Back in Gosport after he had graduated in 1975 he formed
Edward Bear which evolved into Edwin Bear before becoming the band Arms and
Legs. The group went into the
studio and released the two singles “Janie” and “Heat of
the Night” but neither was successful. Before they disbanded they recorded a
third and final single “Is There Anymore Wine”.
He had been
nicknamed Joe, possibly after his likeness to the Joe 90 from the popular
TV series, while he was at school but still performed as David
Jackson. However the name Joe
was resurrected while he was with the band and he began to perform using
After his time
with Arms and Legs he ventured out on his solo career where he was often
found performing in cabaret in order to finance his wish to makes some demo
recordings. After making these
demos he caught the attention of one of A&M Records’ producers. This led to him signing a contract
in 1978 and working with the trio of musicians Gary Sanford, Graham Maby and David Houghton. The next year he released his Look Sharp! which
produced the chart single “Is She Really Going Out With Hiim”.
It was followed by I’m
the Man within a matter of months which included “Different for
Girls” that became his most successful single when it hit No. 5 on
the UK chart.
As the next
decade came in his Beat Crazy hit
the shelves in 1980 and he turn to production in 1981 when he produced The Keys Album for The Keys. He toured with his Joe Jackson Band
and after they disbanded he turned to music from a bygone era and released
his Jumpin’ Jive which included covers
of song by Cab Calloway, Louis Jordan and Glenn Miller among others.
In 1982 he
released his Cole Porter style tribute album Night and Day which brought him his first album Top 10 chart
success when it reached No. 3 in the UK and No. 4 in the US.
The album produced the singles “Breaking Us in Two” and
“Steppin’ Out” which also
entered the singles chart.
“Steppin’ Out” has had it’s instrumental section since been used as the
theme tune for New Orleans’ WYES-TV show. He
then settled in New York, and the influence it had on him was evident in
many of his further works.
Around 1984 he
released Body and Soul which
reached No. 14 on the UK album chart and the resultant single
“You Can’t Get What You Want (Till You Know What You
Want)” reached No. 15 on the US singles chart. Two years later in 1986 he released
his three-sided Big World and the
same year performed the piano for Suzanne Vega on her song “Left of Center” which was featured on the soundtrack of Pretty in Pink.
1987 saw him
releasing his contemporary classical music album Will Power and in 1989 his Blaze
of Glory saw the single “Nineteen Forever” which reached
No. 4 in the US Hot Modern Rock Tracks chart. He supported the album by going on a
European and American tour with an eleven piece band.
As he went
into the 1990s he and A&M Records went their separate ways and A&M
released the UK Top Ten album Steppin’
Out: The Very Best of Joe Jackson.
At the same time Joe got himself a new contract with Virgin Records
and released his Laughter & Lust
in 1991. This turned out to be
his last recording for three years, partly due to lack of sales and little
He did record
again in 1995 though when he appeared on the XTC Tribute Testimonial Dinner performing
“Statue of Liberty”.
his usual style he was given a contract with Sony Classical in 1997. Concentrating on a different genre,
in 1999 Sony released his Symphony
No. 1 which brought him success in the shape of a 2001 Best Pop
Instrumental Album Grammy Award.
1999 also saw the publication of his autobiography A Cure For Gravity.
millennium found him back in the studio working with his re-united
musicians from Look Sharp! for Volume 4
which was followed by a supporting tour. He took time out in 2003 to return
to his native England after New York had put up a smoking ban. Then in 2004
he worked with William Shatner on his album Has Been where they performed a
cover version of “Common People”.
In 2005 he
became a campaigner against the smoking bans that had been put into place
in American and the UK, to the point that he wrote the leaflet The Smoking Issue. That same year he went on a large European
and American tour with Todd Rundgren and the
Ethel string quartet.
He took a
brief tour with a trio after touring with Todd Rundgren
and then a further tour with a trio in 2007. Also that year he released his
“In 20-0-3” and the essay Smoke,
Lies and the Nanny
State which were both continued protests
against the smoking ban. He had also moved again earlier that year and
settled in Berlin, although keeping up his properties in New York and Portsmouth.
In 2008 he
released Rain with a bonus DVD and supported it with a UK tour. In 2009 Live at the BBC was issued and 2011 saw the further recording Live Music.
singers and groups have covered his songs over the years and some of his
work has also been used for the video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.
Aside from his
own recordings he his work has also appeared on many others as a composer,
producer and/or musician. A few
of these include Forever Young &
Other Hits by Alphaville, Strange Little Girls by Tori Amos, Through
Time P.O.V. by Anthrax, Secret
Secrets by Joan Armatrading, High Lonesome by Charlie Daniels, Definitive Leadbelly
by Leadbelly, Vortex
Dub by Prince Lincoln, Inhale
by James Michael, Classics, Vol. 26
by Pablo Cruise, Ghetto People (House
of Reggae) by Ranking Joe, All
the Best by Stiff Little Fingers, You
Inspire Me by Curtis Stigers, There is No “I” in Band
by Tank, Skaboom! by The
Toasters, There’s the Rub
by Wishbone Ash and the soundtracks to Muppets
from Space, There’s Something About Mary and Times
among numerous others.