I first met Jake more than 25 years ago when he used to attend, as simply a member of the audience, the Folk Club I co-ran in his much-loved Monmouth. He was a kind and wonderful man. In the early days of the now-established Monmouth Festival, he'd turn out nightly and give us a hand with chairs and crowd barriers: just doing his bit as a local citizen. When mini-rugby needed funds Jake, still at the height of his national popularity, got mates like Max Boyce and Mike Harding to turn out with him at the Leisure Centre in a concert to raise serious money for the development of a club that today still gives pleasure and opportunity to hundreds of kids. To those of us who knew him well he was just Jake - a man to stop and pass the time of day with - a town 'character'. It was easy to neglect the fact that he was one of the very best songwriters of the 20th century who based his work on terrific observation and a real love of life. There will be a void where Jake once was.
I was very sad to hear of the death of Jake Thackray. I was born and bred in Monmouth, and when we had children of our own, we would often see Jake in the Albion Stores in Cinderhill Street with his boys. He was a very natural person who fame did not change. He regularly treated our children to sweets in the shop if we happened to be in there with them. We also loved his songs and ditties, and the music world will be emptier without him.
We knew Jake as a member of St Mary's Catholic Church in Monmouth. He was a deeply religious man, not in a stuffy or pious way, but with genuine faith and the ability to show God's Love by caring for other people. Whenever he came to one of our church's social events, he would put any food left over into a carrier bag and take it home to give to people in need in the area where he lived. That's true greatness, when a man of such fame and talent shows simple love and compassion for those around him. He played his guitar and sang his songs for us with genuine pleasure in our dingy little church hall, just an ordinary Catholic among a bunch of others. He had true humility, no airs & graces or sense of being anyone important. We shall miss him enormously and hope one day to hear that wonderful deep voice again in the world to come. May God bless you Jake and give you eternal life with Him in Paradise. I hope He has a good sense of humour!
Terry and Lexley George
Jake was an inspiration to me. He became a hero and then a friend. …….We played many festivals and concerts together and I had the great pleasure of visiting his home in Monmouth. …..
When we recorded a fund raising charity album for victims of drug and alcohol abuse, Jake was the first to offer his services.
When I had to take time off from my Radio Show in order to tour Hong Kong and the Middle East, Jake came up from Monmouth to Gloucester to fill in for me. …..
My fondest memory is of the cricket at Monmouth match when we all had a sing song in the marqee; Cosmotheka, Jake, Arizona Smoke Revue. It was a line-up that would have pleased any major folk festival... as it was, the cricketing crowd completely ignored us. It was hilarious.
Jake's visit to Bermuda (early '80's) with Sheila was a high point of my involvement with the Bermuda Folk Club....The warmth and friendship shown to everyone they met was genuine and heartfelt...a great time was had by all..... A quick story.....about six of us, including Sheila and Jake were attempting to swim at Horseshoe Bay....a bit rough...with a wicked undertow...what did we know?...so we decided to give up and get back to the beach...easier said than done...so we held hands in line...then Sheila looked at me and said "Are your feet still feeling sand..." and we realised that the undertow was getting the better of us....Jake and I made eye contact and calmly (sort of) got a better grip with our toes and we inched our way towards to shore with the shorter folks hanging on for dear life. Next time we met, years later, he introduced me as the man who saved his wife's life...and the story was repeated with much elaboration.... Thanks for the music Jake....thanks for the laughs... thanks for everything....
There is a tale told by an old mate of Jake’s, Shep Woolley. At a time when there were strict customs limits on the amount of alcohol you could bring into the country, Shep had organised a ‘Booze Cruise’ across the Channel: a group of entertainers, including Shep, Jake and a local band, would get free ferry tickets in return for playing for the ferry passengers. By the time they got back to Portsmouth with a loaded van, Jake, obviously wishing to get the better of the meagre alcohol allowance, had loaded up his bloodstream as well. The van was pulled over for a random check by a lady customs officer and Jake, ever the comedian, took her in his arms and whispered loudly into her ear: “The drugs are in the spare wheel!” Several hours later Customs had left the van disassembled on the dockside. The band, whose van it was, did not see the funny side!