Terry Jacks | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Terry Jacks

Terry Jacks. Singer, songwriter, record producer, born Winnipeg 29 Mar 1944. Raised in Vancouver, Jacks pursued his musical interests after trying his hand as a draftsman.

Jacks, Terry

Terry Jacks. Singer, songwriter, record producer, born Winnipeg 29 Mar 1944. Raised in Vancouver, Jacks pursued his musical interests after trying his hand as a draftsman. In the mid-1960s he was a singer and guitarist with the Chessmen in local clubs and on CBC TV's 'Music Hop,' where he met the singer Susan Pesklevits. As husband and wife, they formed the short-lived Poppy Family in 1968. Essentially a duo with accompanying musicians, Craig McCaw (guitar) and Satwant Singh (tabla), The Poppy Family had international hits with 'Which Way You Goin' Billy?' and 'That's Where I Went Wrong.' The former reached No. 1 in Canada and No. 2 in the US on the Billboard charts, won the group four Juno awards in 1969 for best single, best "middle of the road" album, best group performance and outstanding sales, and eventually sold over 2.5 million copies. The songs 'Where Evil Grows,' 'No Good to Cry,' and 'Good Friends' were also popular. The Poppy Family was invited to appear on the Ed Sullivan show but chose to appear at Expo 70 in Osaka instead.

As a pop star Jacks was atypical. He has been quoted as saying he wasn't greatly concerned with accumulating wealth, disliked touring and was reluctant to make media appearances. Pressure accumulated as Jacks assumed complete control over administrative and managerial affairs in addition to performing. Reclusive, he insisted that he preferred to go fishing. He chose to dissolve the Poppy Family and soon he and Susan Jacks divorced. Terry and Susan Jacks each undertook solo recording careers by 1973.

Terry Jacks also owned the publishing company Gone Fishin' Music Ltd, and later Sunfish Publishing, but preferred to work as a producer. Jacks, who sang in what Peter Goddard described as a 'feathery, almost adolescent voice' (Toronto Star, 7 Oct 1974), had the biggest hit of his career with his self-produced single "Seasons in the Sun" (1973). The single was released under his own label, Goldfish Records, which Jacks established in the fall of 1973. Jacks adapted his version of "Seasons in the Sun" from Rod McKuen's English translation of the Jacques Brel song 'Le Moribond.' The song had previously been recorded by the Kingston Trio in 1963, and Jacks had started producing it with the Beach Boys, but the recording was never completed. He then attempted to convince Larry Evoy to record it with Edward Bear before finally recording it himself. Jacks's version stayed on the charts for 17 weeks in Canada and 15 in the US, reaching No. 1 on both the adult contemporary and pop Billboard charts in the US in 1974. The single won Juno awards for best male vocalist and best contemporary/pop single in 1974 as well as best-selling single in 1975, and has sold more than 11 million copies worldwide. In the wake of his success Jacks appeared on American Bandstand 9 Feb 1974, but declined most other media and stage appearances. "Seasons in the Sun" has been recorded by several other artists, including punk rock cover band Me First and the Gimme Gimmes (1997). Among Jacks's other Canadian hits were 'I'm Gonna Love You Too' (1973), 'Rock and Roll (I Gave the Best Years of My Life)' (1974), and 'Christina' (1975). Jacks also had one hit single with the band Hood in 1974, covering the Beau-Marks tune "Cause We're In Love."

Jacks was only intermittently active in music in later years. He produced, starred in and composed music for the TV film Seasons in the Sun (1982), released the single "You Fooled Me" and the album Pulse in 1983, and the album Just Like That in 1987. He also produced albums for Susan Jacks and Chilliwack, as well as a new version of his own 'Where Evil Grows' for D.O.A. in 1989, with Jacks reportedly making a cameo appearance in the video of the song. Jacks has been credited as the first Canadian to produce two songs to reach No. 1 on the US charts. The first of these ("Which Way You Goin' Billy?") was successful before the era of Canadian content regulations, while the second ("Seasons in the Sun") was successful shortly after the ruling came into effect.

In the late 1980s Jacks left the music industry to become an environmentalist and anti-pollution activist. Through founding the organization Environmental Watch of BC, Jacks spoke out against the pollution caused by pulp and paper mills to the province's coastal waters. He released a second film, The Warmth of Love: The Four Seasons of Sophie Thomas (2000), an environmental documentary that Jacks produced, directed, wrote, scored, and narrated.



That's Where I Went Wrong. (1970). London PS-568

Which Way You Goin' Billy. (1970). London PS-574

Poppy Seeds. (1971). London PS-599

Terry Jacks & The Poppy Family. (1976). K-tel TC-230-8

The Poppy Family's Greatest Hits: Featuring Susan Jacks. (1989). A&M Records CD 69998

A Good Thing Lost: 1968-1973. (1996). March Records 60017-2


Seasons in the Sun. (1974). Goldfish GFLP-1001

Y'Don't Fight the Sea. (1976). Goldfish GOLP-1

Into the Past. (1982). A&M SP-69881

Pulse. (1983). A&M SP-9096

Just Like That. (1987). Attic LAT-1229

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