Sunday Night Music Byte
Terry Jacks (born March 29, 1944, Winnipeg, Manitoba) is a Canadian singer, songwriter, record producer and environmentalist. His family having relocated to Vancouver, Jacks took up guitar in his teens and at 18 joined a Vancouver, British Columbia, band called The Chessmen. The group had a few minor local hits before disbanding, after which Jacks teamed up with singer Susan Pesklevits (born 1948, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan). Jacks played guitar while Pesklevits sang lead vocals. Initially, their material consisted mainly of cover songs but eventually, Jacks began writing more and his songs were added to the repertoire. The duo performed at small Vancouver clubs before adding another guitarist (Craig McCaw) and tabla player (Satwant Singh) to restyle themselves as The Poppy Family.
Jacks and Pesklevits married in 1968 and eked out a living until the band burst onto the national charts in 1969 with their debut album, Which Way You Goin’ Billy? which was written and produced by Jacks. The 45rpm single went to No. 1 in Canada and reached No. 2 on the Billboard charts in the United States, selling over three million copies. The single was the first million-selling record ever recorded in British Columbia. It won a Juno Award for best performance while Jacks earned a Juno for best producer of a single. The Poppy Family won a Juno for best group and immediately followed up with a second album, Poppy Seeds, but it did not match the success of the first album. The Poppy Family did place two other singles in the top five in Canadian and the U.S. Top 50, “That’s Where I Went Wrong” (No. 29, 1970) and “Where Evil Grows” (No. 45, 1971), the latter of which was a duet (unusual since Susan was lead singer on most of the group’s singles). Jacks then released the solo single “Concrete Sea” in Canada. It was never released in the US.
Susan and Terry produced two more albums before the marriage ended, Susan’s first solo album “I Thought Of You Again” and Terry’s “Seasons in the Sun.” They had worked with the Beach Boys to record the song “Seasons In The Sun”. The song was recorded in Vancouver, B.C. by Jacks and his wife at the time, Susan Jacks (the Poppy Family), shortly before their marriage ended. When the Beach Boys decided not to finish recording it, Terry and Susan made the decision to record it themselves and release it under Terry’s name. The distinctive twangy guitar riff has frequently been attributed to Link Wray, however Wray himself always denied playing on the recording. Jacks released it on his own label and it soon topped the record charts in the U.S. (where it was released on Bell Records), Canada and the UK and sold over six million copies worldwide.
Jacks’ version was released in the United States in December 1973, and made the Billboard Hot 100 a month later. On March 2, 1974, the song began a three-week run at No. 1 atop the Hot 100, and remained in the top 40 until almost Memorial Day weekend. Although he released several other singles that were successful in Canada, “Seasons in the Sun” would become Jacks’ only major solo hit in the United States.
Please enjoy this video clip of Terry Jacks performing his 1973 hit “Seasons In The Sun” in a 2006 performance.