Happy Birthday to Lee Jackson – born January 8, 1943 | Lee Jackson

Lee Jackson is an English bass guitarist and singer-songwriter, known for his work in the Nice, an English progressive-rock band as well as his own band formed after the Nice, Jackson Heights, and finally Refugee with Nice drummer Brian Davison and Swiss keyboardist Patrick Moraz.


He was born Keith Anthony Joseph Jackson in Newcastle upon Tyne.

Jackson first played with unknown bands, the Vandykes and the Invaders. He then joined Gary Farr and the T-Bones, meeting their organist Keith Emerson. The two met again later, to form a backing band for American singer P. P. Arnold: she had been with the Ike & Tina Turner Revue, and was starting a solo career in England.

The Nice were formed by Emerson and Jackson, with guitarist David O’List and Ian Hague on drums, soon to be replaced by Brian Davison. Emerson left the band to form Emerson, Lake & Palmer in 1970; Jackson subsequently formed the band Jackson Heights with Charlie Harcourt on guitars, Mario Enrique Covarrubias Tapia on bass and Spanish guitars and Tommy Sloane on drums.

Jackson Heights disbanded after their first album King Progress in 1970. Jackson reformed the band, with keyboardist Brian Chatton (ex-Warriors and ex-Flaming Youth) and John McBurnie on acoustic guitar, keyboards and vocals. Michael Giles played drums on the next three albums, but the band toured as a trio without drums. On their last record, “Bump n’ grind”, Ian Wallace (ex-King Crimson as Giles was) and Deep Purple’s Ian Paice shared drums with Michael Giles.

Jackson went on to form the band Refugee, with drummer Brian Davison from The Nice and Swiss keyboardist Patrick Moraz. They released one album before Moraz quit to join Yes. Jackson and Davison reformed The Nice again with Emerson, accompanied by The Keith Emerson Band, for a tour of England in 2002; a live album Vivacitas was recorded and published that same year.

Lee Jackson has played bass in a New Orleans-style rock ‘n’ roll and jazz band, called the Ginger Pig, based in Northampton, for more than twenty years since returning to the UK. He also formed a small combo called ‘Lee Jackson’s Barking Spyders’, with members of a Beatles tribute band called Accrington Stanley. He has a hoarse singing voice (which has frequently drawn criticism, notably from Emerson[1]) and an almost percussive bass playing style.


The Nice ;

Studio Albums :

  • 1967 : The Thoughts of Emerlist Davjack (Immediate)
  • 1968 : Ars Longa Vita Brevis (Immediate)
  • 1969 : Nice (Immediate)
  • 1970 : Five Bridges (Charisma)
  • 1971 : Elegy (Charisma)

Live Albums :

  • 1996 : America – The BBC Sessions (Receiver, 1996)
  • 2001 : The Swedish Radio Sessions (late 1967) (Sanctuary, 2001)
  • 2002 : BBC Sessions (Sanctuary, 2002)
  • 2003 : Vivacitas (Sanctuary, 2003)
  • 2009 : Live at the Fillmore East December 1969 (Virgin, 2009)

Jackson Heights ;

  • 1970 : King Progress (Charisma UK CAS 1018, CAS.1018 – Mercury US SR-61331)
  • 1972 : The Fifth Avenue Bus (Vertigo – 6360 067)
  • 1972 : Ragamuffins Fool (Vertigo – 6360 077)
  • 1973 : Bump n’ Grind (Vertigo – 6360 092)

Refugee ;

  • 1974 : Refugee – Charisma Label
  • 2007 : Refugee Live in concert. Newcastle City Hall 1974, Voiceprint label. Contains two songs from the Nice era, “The diamond hard blue apples of the moon” and the Bob Dylan song “She belongs to me” as well as songs from the studio album from Refugee.
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