The bassist Lee Jackson was born on this day 1943.
Jackson was born Keith Anthony Joseph Jackson, reportedly taking on the name “Lee” to differentiate himself from bandmate Keith Emerson after the two first joined forces in Gary Farr’s group Gary Farr and the T-Bones. The two would later go on to become singer Pat Arnold’s backing band, where they took on the name “the Nice” from her suggestion; this backing band would later graduate to becoming a backing band in their own right.
As a member of the Nice, Jackson served as a founding member of the nascent genre of progressive rock, where the group experimented with covers of jazz standards, partnerships with orchestras, and Hammond-led sounds. Jackson provided vocals as well as bass lines to the group.
After Emerson left the Nice, Jackson went on to form another band of his own, Jackson Heights. He also played with fellow ex-Nice member Brian Davison and Yes keyboardist Patrick Moraz in the progressive rock trio Refugee. He has participated in other projects over the years, including a brief revival of the Nice and a New Orleans-style band called the Ginger Pig.
Today is a great day to celebrate one of progressive rock’s less-celebrated pioneers. Many happy returns, Mr. Jackson!