Like many reading this I was lucky enough to have met Jackie Leven, in his younger days he frequented a number of the pubs just down the road from me. He was a remarkable songwriter and his songs were full of remarkable honesty. His battle with drinks and drugs have been well documeted, but what is really amazing was that even during the worst of his personal nightmares, he still found time to document it in the hundreds of songs he wrote.
We all have our favourite Jackie Leven song, but the thing we all have in common is that we have been touched by his material, we related to a bit of him reflected in us. He was a man that wasn't ashamed to admit his flaws he has songs about times when he'd rather have rather done the right thing, but did what many of us would have done and walked on by. He had songs about when he did the right thing and paid a price for it and songs simply about life.
Off the back of his own addictions he co-founded the CORE trust an organisation still providing holistic care to addicts, saving and improving the quality of life. Likewise with his music, the times I went to his gigs, I never once saw him miss the support act.
Jackie was a prolific writer, which lead to one of my favourite quotes concerns how Jackie's alter-ego Sir Vincent Lone came to life.
"Some years ago I noticed that I was writing a lot more songs than I was ever going to record and get released, especially in these times where you can only release one studio album every eighteen months. As I am a writer of genius, this began to worry me more and more. So I went to see my Cooking Vinyl boss, Martin Goldschmidt, to ask him if I could make more records. He said no. I said to him 'look, The Beatles once released four albums in one year, and nobody said to them, hey that's too many records in one year'. Martin said 'Jackie, this is not 1967 and you are not The Beatles'. We talked some more and we agreed that I could make records under a different name - that name is Sir Vincent Lone."
Jackie may not have been the Beatles, but he was one heck of a talent when it came to writing songs, prolific and gifted is a rare mix and one that will be missed.