And the rest...

I do remember Jake very well. I loved his style..his songs his whole rather wry approach. I remember he was quiet, watchful but very sympatico. The studio was live..many guests ..rather manic...they all reacted so well to him..quietened down..very still. He was somebody you felt you would like to know better interesting friend, but in those manic, exciting live radio days..he was there...for a moment still..undercurrents..making a huge impression..then gone.. Best I can do...but its strange how your email has brought that night back to me very vividly. Can't remember the interview..but his presence made a huge impact.

Sarah Ward
(writing to Ian Burdon about the time she interviewed Jake on Capital Radio)

I used to go to see Jake with female friends at first; my husband never wanted to come with me. The first time he did, I introduced him to Jake, and Jake looked visibly relieved and said "I'm SO glad to meet YOU!" - I think he thought I was after his body, so the fact that I had a husband made me less of a threat! On another occasion I clearly remember Jake introducing me to someone - it might have been Alan Williams, the bass player - as "my groupie". I still don't know whether that was a compliment or not!

I also used to correspond on an occasional basis with the presenter of a Folk Song Show on our local radio station, so he got to know me too. When he was planning the one hundredth edition of his show (called "Gentlefolk" - which was also the name of one of the folk clubs Jake used to appear in) he set up a competition, inviting listeners to say who they'd most like to meet and then arranging for the winners to meet their heroes. He actually told me on the phone that he had me in mind for Jake, and when I didn't submit an entry to his competition he rang me to ask why! I did "interview" Jake, in the interval at a folk event in a pub; I was hopeless as an interviewer, but Jake took control and a recording happened, which was broadcast. I recorded it on a little cassette player when it was broadcast, so needless to say that is one of my treasures.

Pam Archer

One thing I remember, which you don't get on his recordings, is that fabulously endearing, wry smile he'd produce now and again when he was amused by a story he was telling, or a reaction from the audience. I wrote a pastiche song, as a teenager, and asked him during my only chat after a gig in Kendal whether he ever sung anyone else's songs (i.e. mine!). Got short shrift, sadly! Jake - you're much missed and massively under-appreciated.

Steve Becker

Once got to sing on the same bill at a folk club in Exeter. Well, its a sillyish story, so why not?

I used to go to the folk club on a semi-regular basis when I was at Uni. One evening, the main act was a wonderful guitarist, and the support was the guy who ran the club - Bob or Bill or something, I'm afraid I can't remember. Half way through his rendition of "Cry Me a River" he forgot the words, and asked the audience to help him out. I had 'drink taken' in sufficient quantities to reduce my inhibitions, and did so. In the break, he came and asked me if I'd like to sing with him again for the next two weeks, as the support act he'd booked for both evenings had got sick, he was stuck with doing it himself, and he was a guitarist, not a singer. (Trust me, he REALLY wasn't a singer). So I said yes, and for the second gig I was therefore supporting Jake.

Bob-Bill and I did our bit. Then Jake did his - which was utterly wonderful. We all had a drink after. Jake wasn't overly chatty, but he did comment that it was nice to see a young woman on the folk scene for a change rather than "bald, bearded blokes in Arran jumpers."

Joy Green

A wonderful songwriter, great performer, hilarious raconteur. Nobody else's songs have ever moved me or made me laugh as much. I caught him in concert six or seven times. I remember one in particular: Welwyn Garden City, 1976, a couple of weeks before Christmas. He was telling his story about Leopold Allcox, his friend the walking disaster area, when the venue manager came on stage to say there was a bomb scare and we'd have to vacate the building. We did, and he came and joined us outside for a very cold half hour. When we were allowed back in, he walked on stage and stood looking at the audience for a full minute before saying 'the bugger's here!'

Stephen Barnard

I have read these condolences with tears running down my face; to be loved and admired like Jake is perhaps what going to heaven actually means. If I had to choose one word to describe this man it would be "genuine". I saw him perform twice. The first time was at the Buddle Arts Centre in Wallsend, where I glanced over my shoulder in the drinks queue at the interval and found him queuing behind me with his money ready in his hand. The other was at the Theatre Royal in Newcastle where he put down a heckler who interrupted him during a song intro by shouting "You're talking too much" with a growled "So are you, pal". But I don't think any other performer would, after he had sung the song, have apologised to the heckler for having been so rude to him. Wholly without pretence he would have been ribald or worse about such fond words about him as are found on these condolences. Perhaps that is why so many people who never met him feel personally diminished by his loss.

John Pearce

At some point over this weekend my memory was triggered of a bit of a Jake evening which made me laugh. At some point during a Folk Club set way back in the '70s he announced that he was going to do an impersonation, of course prefaced by telling us he was a less than talented impersonator. He started doing a sort of John Cleese silly walk thing only not walking but simply changing his posture and the position of his arms and legs, twisting and turning, stooping, crouching, turning .... all very odd. He finally said "It's an impersonation of God, you know - he moves in mysterious ways!" ……. A crease on the night (a gasser in fact!)

Peter Gray

I had the immense pleasure of taking Jake on a tour of the Gulf States in June/July 1980. What a gentleman. For a promoter, he was the ideal - always on time, eager to learn about the new places we were to visit, and 100% performance every night. The people loved him, and so did I.

Robert Smith

……..In '85 I heard he was playing in Rotherham, and dragged a girlfriend along to watch him, and it was a cracking night - he was on form. I got to see him twice after that, the last time was in Wakefield around '92. Sadly on that last gig, he failed to finish a couple of songs, and my heart went out to him. I sat and had a drink with him after the show, and he was very down and introverted, reflecting on how "he should have been a writer" rather than a singer. Thing is, every now and then someone appears on the scene whose lyrics just manage to 'hit the spot'. Jake was a genius and eccentric, as genius' often are, and totally unique; there will never be anyone who will be remotely like him, and we are all the worse off for his passing.

Paul Green

"Not awfully well, old pal. I'll ring you tomorrow." That was about a month ago and the three of us who had come to see you in Monmouth in October were very worried about your state of health. You'd insisted that you were "fit as a butcher's dog" and had strolled through town with us apparently as strongly as ever. Your mind was sharp and you were full of laughter and joking, and enthusiastic about the new theatre project which you wanted to write some new material for. But you didn't ring on the morrow, and we failed to make any further contact with you despite extensive attempts. You'd told us that you were buying a house in France, to go and live near your sister and her children: perhaps you'd gone there already. But now we know, and it's awfully hard to bear. When you learned about the extent of the love for you pouring into the email forum, you said you were "whelmed". You'd be a lot more than whelmed, old pal, if you could witness the depth of grief pouring out today.

Ian Watson

Buy the DVD

jake bbc dvd

The DVD of the BBC series 'Jake Thackray and Songs' is now available to buy online via Amazon.

'Magnificent' (The Independent)

'Jake Thackray and Songs', broadcast in 1981, captures him at the height of his powers; it paints an intimate portrait of Jake as a live artist, playing to audiences in the small venues where he felt most comfortable.

This BBC-licensed DVD, professionally produced from the original BBC masters, features all of Jake's performances from the series: thirty of his greatest songs, along with his inimitable between-songs chat and storytelling.

Also included are previously unreleased performances by three outstanding guest artists: Ralph McTell, Alex Glasgow and Pete Scott.