JAKE THACKRAY is 29 years old, 6 ft. 2 ins. tall, and single. He teaches English to classes of young people aged 11 to 17 in a school in his home town of Leeds, Yorkshire. What makes his classes different from anyone else's is the fact that his pupils also do songs and even taped 'musicals', which their teacher writes, as part of their curriculum. They have eight of these •musicals' on tape up to now. And a Christmas Play, with music.
JAKE THACKRAY sings original ditties to his own guitar accompaniment, in Yorkshire pubs and clubs in and around the Leeds area. But not the same sort of songs. Ex-curricular. Different songs, but written by the same fellow.
This musical bent of Jake's is comparatively recent — he took up the guitar only about 21/2 years ago. But prior to that he had written verse, some of which has been published in France, as well as in the sober pages of "The Listener".
He was educated in a Roman Catholic College in Leeds, from which he graduated to the University of Durham at the age of 18. When he graduated he went to France for some 31/2 years teaching English in such far-apart areas as Lille, Brittany, the Pyrenees — followed by a somewhat hectic six months in Algeria (1961/62) which was then at the height of its troubles with the French motherland … then back to Lille. It was at this time that he had some of his verse published there.
Jake returned to Leeds in 1964 to take up the appointment in the school where he still teaches. And writes songs. The words and music he writes for the youngsters are exemplified by his forthcoming disc which is to be released shortly, consisting of two sacred carols "REMEMBER BETHLEHEM" and "JOSEPH". On this his first single, Jake has the backing of a choir, plus orchestra.
The secular side of his career is shown by a selection of 'doggerel ditties' — out of the fifty or sixty he has written so far — which are featured on his first LP. Of these, six have been fully orchestrated, three have a rhythm backing, and the other two are sung to his own guitar accompaniment. Jake himself sums up the two kinds of songs he writes as 'The Holy and the Horrid'!
The recordings came about almost by chance. For some time now, Jake Thackray has been featured on BBC Radio — first in the Northern Region (where he has also appeared on over a dozen "Look North" television programmes), where producer Pamela Howe used his songs in a series about the countryside, and later from the West Region where he did a song a month in a similar kind of programme. One of these broadcasts was heard by arranger/composer Brian Fahey on his car radio one day. He was impressed and told Norman Newell about it. Result was that Norman Newell got in touch with Jake and listened to a couple of his songs. A little later on, Jake Thackray came down to London again and did about 30 songs for him. These first recordings are the result.
As regards sporting activities, Jake used to play Rugby League, both in Yorkshire and in France, but he lost his enthusiasm along with several teeth which were kicked in during a 'friendly' match among the excitable Gallic players! Since then he has confined himself to singing songs for supporters — and others — in the pub after the match. The LP features some of these songs plus some that have become strong local favourites in the rather more 'posh' Clubs of Leeds, Bradford, Dewsbury and district.
JAKE THACKRAY is a true original — the modern counterpart of the mediaeval troubadour, at home in any company but still very much his own man.
As his songs will show.
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