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John Richard Lomax (10 May 1944 – 15 September 2013) was an English guitarist and singer-songwriter. He is best known for his association with George Harrison, who produced Lomax’s recordings for the Beatles’ Apple record label in the late 1960s.
John Richard Lomax was born in 1944 in Wallasey, Cheshire. He was a member of Dee and the Dynamites, The Undertakers, The Lomax Alliance, Heavy Jelly and Badger. He worked with The Tea Bags, George Harrison, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Leon Russell and Nicky Hopkins.
In January 1962, Jackie Lomax left Dee and the Dynamites to join the Merseybeat band The Undertakers. They followed The Beatles’ route through local venues before setting out for Hamburg, Germany, and securing a recording contract. They signed with Pye Records and released four singles, but they only managed one week on the UK Singles Chart with “Just a Little Bit” (#49 in 1964). In 1965 they decided to try their luck in the United States.
Lomax spent two years in the US with The Undertakers and a couple of other groups. In 1967, Brian Epstein took his latest line-up, The Lomax Alliance, back to the UK to showcase them at London’s Saville Theatre. He arranged for a single and an album to be recorded, and they signed to CBS before Epstein’s death. During that period, CBS released two Lomax Alliance singles and one Jackie Lomax solo single. More than enough tracks for an album were recorded but it was never released.
After Epstein’s death, The Beatles’ new record label, Apple Records, took over responsibility for Lomax’s recording career, and George Harrison became involved in production. Despite having three-quarters of The Beatles on the record, plus Eric Clapton and Nicky Hopkins, Lomax’s 1968 debut single on Apple, the Harrison-penned “Sour Milk Sea“, backed with “The Eagle Laughs at You” written by Lomax, made little commercial impression. Lomax and Harrison recorded the remainder of the Is This What You Want? album in Los Angeles, with Hal Blaine and other members of the Wrecking Crew; but as with the concurrent single, the Lomax-produced “New Day”, success remained elusive when the album was released in early 1969. A final Apple single followed, a cover version of “How the Web Was Woven” featuring Leon Russell. By 1970, The Beatles’ breakup left the remaining Apple Records artists in limbo. […]
From TheGuardian, September 17, 2013:
[…] Lomax had known the Beatles since their early days at the Cavern club and in Hamburg, when he was the singer and bass guitarist with the Undertakers, a popular Mersey Beat band noted for their energetic stage show, in which the musicians wore the frock coats, and sometimes top hats, appropriate to funeral directors in the wild west.
In those days he looked exactly like a Beatle – and in a sense he was, one night in 1960 when, still the Silver Beetles and a man short for a Liverpool gig, they used him as a stand-in drummer. Almost a decade later he joined them in the studio to sing on the chorus of Hey Jude and to add a low harmony on Dear Prudence.
It was John Lennon who advised him to embark on a solo career, and Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr played on his first Apple single, Sour Milk Sea, which Harrison also wrote and produced. But when the single and the ensuing album – also produced by Harrison and titled Is This What You Want? – failed to make an impact, he left the label and eventually settled in the US, where he recorded a number of further solo albums for major labels without ever quite fulfilling the potential so many in the industry believed they had glimpsed.
Born in Wallasey, the son of a millworker, the teenaged Lomax and his friend the drummer Warren “Bugs” Pemberton left their first band, Dee and the Dynamites, to join the Undertakers in January 1962. Like the Beatles, their stage act was developed during residencies at the clubs in and around Hamburg’s Reeperbahn, and in 1963, with the Liverpool sound starting to dominate the British pop scene, they were voted the city’s fifth most popular group by the readers of Mersey Beat magazine. Two years later, after a contract with Pye Records had produced four singles – all covers of American R&B songs — but no hits, they tried to capitalise on the British invasion of the US charts by moving across the Atlantic.
Left stranded and penniless in a motel in Canada, they disbanded and in 1967 Lomax and Pemberton formed their own group, the Lomax Alliance. Tipped off by Cilla Black that Brian Epstein was interested in him, Lomax returned to London with the band, who were showcased in one of the concerts presented by the Beatles’ manager at the Saville theatre. Epstein signed them to CBS records, but after his death in 1968 and the release of a handful of unsuccessful singles the arrangement petered out.
It was then that the Beatles themselves took a hand, and on 30 August 1968 the initial batch of Apple singles included Sour Milk Sea alongside the Beatles’ Hey Jude, Mary Hopkin’s Those Were the Days and the Black Dyke Mills Band’s Thingumybob. Lomax’s single was one of the two that did not become worldwide No 1 hits. His Apple album also featured Eric Clapton, with other tracks recorded in Los Angeles; a lovely ballad titled Fall Inside Your Eyes was later covered by the soul singer Percy Sledge.
When the lack of success of two subsequent singles, New Day and How the Web Was Woven, and the arrival at Apple’s Savile Row HQ of the hard-nosed American business manager Allen Klein prompted the end of the Beatles’ patronage, Lomax spent several months as a member of the not-quite-supergroup Heavy Jelly, whose sole album remained unreleased. […]
About four years ago, when I was in The Undertakers, George got in touch with me to make a record as a solo but things were going well with the group and I wanted the group to make it, but I went to see him anyway. But he had been called to a meeting and so it all sort of fell apart. Then, this year, someone was interested in forming a group with me as a lead singer and I went to see John and Paul to see if they would back us. I wasn’t too keen on the group scene anyway, having been in it for six years. John said, ‘Look, you don’t need a group, why don’t you be a solo singer?’ And I said, ‘Yes.’Jackie Lomax – From “The Beatles: Off the Record” by Keith Badman
Last updated on September 26, 2021