Radio 2 pays tribute to Jake

By Mark Elson in Local People

THE life and music of a celebrated singer-songwriter from the Wye Valley will be profiled in a BBC Radio 2 documentary next Tuesday (April 18).

Former Catatonia frontwoman Cerys Matthews is presenting a celebration of Jake Thackray, who lived in Monmouth from the late 1960s until his death on Christmas Eve, 2002.

The singer had a residency on top TV shows That’s Life, The David Frost Show and On the Braden Beat in the 1960s and 1970s and his own show on BBC Two in the 1980s.

His unique style and comic songs earned him the label of England’s ‘chansonnier’, and since his death at the age of 64, his work has been rediscovered by a new army of fans, including Jarvis Cocker, Morrissey, Alex Turner of the Arctic Monkeys and Thea Gilmore.

Songs which made him famous include Bantam Cock, La-Di-Dah, Sister Josephine, The Blacksmith and the Toffee Maker and On Again! On Again!

Although he largely withdrew from performing in the 1990s, the Monmouth Festival hosted a legendary performance by Jake in front of the Shire Hall when he was spotted in the crowd and persuaded to take to the stage, playing an impromptu set which left the crowd baying for more.

Since the death of the singer, who is buried at Welsh Newton churchyard near Monmouth, a musical Sister Josephine Kicks the Habit and re-releases of his albums and television appearances have reignited interest in his work.

Cerys Matthews is another star who is a self-proclaimed fan of Jake. Her documentary is on BBC Radio 2 on Tuesday, April 18 at 10pm.

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