09/17 8:00 PM - $25.00
FRONT AND CENTER & THE IRIDIUM PRESENT: An Evening with Joe Jackson
Joe Jackson was born on August 11 1954 in Burton-on-Trent, England, but grew up in the South Coast naval port city of Portsmouth. A skinny, asthmatic kid, he loved books and originally wanted to be a writer. At age 11, though, he joined a school violin class in order to escape the humiliation of Sports periods in which it was very often him, rather than the ball, which got kicked. Much to his own surprise, he found himself fascinated by music and eagerly studying music theory and history.
A couple of years later, Joe had switched to the piano, mainly because of his new ambition: to be a composer. His first efforts were pieces for piano and small groups of instruments. Within a few more years, though, he was writing songs, and leaning more towards the pop world.
At age 16 Joe played his first paying gig, as pianist in a pub next door to a glue factory just outside of Portsmouth. This was followed by other pub gigs (in which he was often trying to entertain crowds of drunken, bottle-throwing sailors) and accompanying a bouzouki player in a Greek restaurant.
At age 18 Joe won a scholarship to study Composition, Piano, and Percussion at London’s Royal Academy of Music. During the three years he spent there, he broadened his horizons further by working with a Fringe theatre group, studying Jazz with John Dankworth at the Academy and in the National Youth Jazz Orchestra, and playing in pop cover bands with names like Edward Bear and The Misty Set. By the time he left the Academy, he was the co-leader and songwriter of Arms and Legs, a proto-punk outfit which released two singles on the MAM label before burning out somewhere around 1976.
Joe then took a detour through the Cabaret world, as pianist and musical director first for the Portsmouth Playboy Club and then for singing duo Koffee N’ Kreme. The main purpose of this was to save money to make demos of his own songs.
By 1978 Joe was living in London and hawking an album-length demo, with his own band (Graham Maby, Bass; Dave Houghton, Drums; Gary Sanford, Guitar) standing by. That demo – already called Look Sharp – eventually found its way to American producer David Kershenbaum, who was in London in the capacity of talent scout for A&M Records. Joe was immediately signed and Look Sharp more professionally re-recorded in August ’78. The Joe Jackson Band finally started to play regular gigs and the album was released in January 1979.