Bull Moose Jackson Biography

Benjamin Clarence Jackson, 22 April 1919, Cleveland, Ohio, USA, d. 31 July 1989, Cleveland, Ohio, USA. Jackson become interested in music at an early age, and received singing and violin lessons by the age of four. In high school he learned to play the saxophone, and upon his graduation in the late 30s he was hired by legendary trumpeter Freddie Webster to play alto and tenor with his Harlem Hotshots. Living briefly in Buffalo, New York, in the early 40s, Jackson returned to Cleveland to a job at the Cedar Gardens, where in 1944, he was discovered by band leader Lucky Millinder who needed a musician to replace tenor saxophonist Lucky Thompson. Initially recording simply as a talented accompanist with Millinder’s orchestra on Decca Records and as a guest musician with ‘Big’ Sid Catlett’s band on Capitol Records, Jackson astounded his colleagues by substituting for blues shouter Wynonie Harris one night in Lubbock, Texas. He remained a part of the Millinder aggregation until June 1948 with the huge success of his R&B hit ‘I Love You, Yes I Do’.

Jackson began making records under his own name from 1945 with King/Queen and Superdisc, as well as appearing on Millinder’s Decca tracks. He also made an appearance in the 1948 musical film Boarding House Blues. Jackson enjoyed great success on King Records between 1947 and 1954 with ballads such as ‘I Love You, Yes I Do’ (which spawned innumerable cover versions for every conceivable market), ‘All My Love Belongs To You’ and ‘Little Girl Don’t Cry’. Bullmoose was also responsible for some of the hottest, most suggestive R&B ever recorded, and it is these titles - ‘Big Ten-Inch (Record)’, ‘I Want A Bow-Legged Woman’, ‘Nosey Joe’ and ‘Oh John’ - that found favour with the later crop of jump and R&B revival bands. Jackson moved to Chess Records’ short-lived Marterry subsidiary in 1955, switched to the tiny Encino label in 1956, and was reduced to making re-recordings of his old hits in the early 60s for Warwick and 7 Arts. By that time he had taken a job with a catering firm during the week and only played the occasional weekend gig. In 1974 he made a cameo appearance in the dramatic movie Sincerely The Blues, led a jazz band at the Smithsonian Institute in 1976, and went on to tour France and North Africa with Buck Clayton’s Quartet. In 1983 Jackson was tracked down by the Pittsburgh-based band the Flashcats, who had been covering his risqué R&B songs, and after 35 years he was big news again with a sell-out tour, a new recording contract with Bogus Records, a celebrated show at Carnegie Hall and a European tour with the Johnny Otis Show in 1985.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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