Chuck Jackson — “Lonely Lonely Man Am I”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — April 5, 2022

405) Chuck Jackson — “Lonely Lonely Man Am I”

From Jackson’s ’68 Motown album Chuck Jackson Arrives, this is a great song by Norman Whitfield, Eddie Holland, and Eddie Kendricks. The Velvelettes did it first as “Lonely Lonely Girl Am I.” The Tenptations did it. Jimmy Ruffin did it. But only Chuck Jackson made it into a timeless classic. Not only that, his version has a slinky bassline that must have been the inspiration for the samesuch in Peter Gabriel’s massive hit “Sledgehammer.” Just listen to the two.

Richie Unterberger gives us some history:

Chuck Jackson was a regular visitor to the R&B charts (and an occasional one to the pop listings) in the early ’60s . . . . His records were very much of a piece with New York pop/rock-soul production, with cheeky brass, sweeping strings, and female backup vocalists. . . . [He] had some success with some duets with Maxine Brown in the mid-’60s . . . . [He went to] Motown [in ’67], at the urging of Smokey Robinson. Jackson was (perhaps understandably) lost in the shuffle during his four years at Motown, and he’s barely been heard from since, although he remains a favorite on England’s “Northern soul” scene.

But as Andrew Hamilton explains:

Chuck Jackson’s failure at Motown had little to do with the material, and everything to do with the choices for singles and lackluster promotion. “(You Can’t Let the Boy Overpower) The Man in You” did nothing for either the Miracles or Jackson; it was the only single released from [a] set of 12 above-average tracks. Better choices for singles were [songs such as] “Lonely, Lonely Man Am I[]” . . . .

Jackson’s official website says:

Possessing one of the most elegant baritone voices in the annals of recorded music . . . . [Jackson’s] seductive rasp is emblematic of his inimitable style . . . . Flip Wilson, at one time the most popular comedian in the world, got his big break when Chuck took him on the road to open shows for him [I didn’t know this!] . . . Tom Jones was heavily influenced by Chuck when he touched down on American soil with the smash that was originally written for Chuck, “It’s Not Unusual.” . . . [I didn’t know this!] . . . [Jackson received] the Apollo Theatre’s Hall of Fame Award . . . for headlining more shows there than any artist in the history of the historical Manhattan venue [I didn’t know this!]

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Here’s a great live version:

The Velvelettes:

The Temptations:

Jimmy Ruffin:

Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” —

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