April 14, 2013 – George Jackson was born on March 12th 1945 in Indianola, Mississippi and moved with his family to Greenville at the age of five. He sang southern soul from the 1960s into the 1980s. As a writer, he provided scores of songs for Goldwax and Fame in the 1960s and Hi and Sounds Of Memphis in the 1970s. As a singer, he had a versatile tenor that was influenced by Sam Cooke, and released many records over the years, for a host of different labels, but his recordings never made him a star.
His songwriter relationship with Malaco Records, however saw him pen material for dozens of artists, such as “One Bad Apple” for the Osmonds, “Old Time Rock & Roll” for Bob Seeger and “The Only Way Is Up”, which became a UK No.1 for Yazz and Coldcut, having been written originally for Otis Clay.
Jackson recorded dozens of singles in the 1960s but made his mark as a writer, beginning with FAME Studios. He later was a songwriter for Muscle Shoals Sound Studios. When Malaco bought Muscle Shoals Sound, it hired Jackson to write songs.
Jackson had been writing songs by the time he was in his teens. It was Ike Turner who brought him to the New Orleans r’n’b pioneer Cosimo Matassa’s studio in 1963, where he recorded his first song. “George had hooks coming out of his ears,” said Wolf Stephenson, Malaco’s vice president and chief engineer. “They weren’t all hits, but I never heard him write a bad song. He never really got the recognition that’s normally due a writer of his stature.”
The Osmonds recorded Jackson’s “One Bad Apple” in 1970, taking it to No 1 in the US. Jackson and Thomas Jones III wrote “Old Time Rock and Roll“, which Bob Seger recorded in 1978. Stephenson said “Old Time Rock and Roll” is truly Jackson’s song, and he has the tapes to prove it, despite Seger’s claims that he altered it. “Bob had pretty much finished his recording at Muscle Shoals and he asked them if they had any other songs he could listen to for the future,” Stephenson recalled.
Besides Seeger, the Osmonds and Ike and Tina Turner, Jackson’s songs were also recorded by James Brown, Wilson Pickett and Clarence Carter. Later he wrote “Down Home Blues” for ZZ Hill, a song which was a keystone for Malaco. The Mississippi label is a storehouse of soul, rhythm and blues and gospel music.
“He had a way of seeing things about life and saying them in a way that a lot of other people could relate to,” said Thomas Couch, Malaco’s chairman.
He died from cancer on April 14, 2013 at age 68.