Iconic songwriter George Jackson died on Sunday morning at the age of 68. Jackson was the co-author of “Old Time Rock and Roll” and hundreds of other soul, rock, and rhythm and blues tunes.
Jackson, born in Indianola, Mississippi, began writing songs in his teens. Ike Turner discovered him and dook him to New Orleans R&B pioneer Cosimo Matassa’s studio in 1963. It was there Jackson recorded his first song.
He went on to record dozens of singles in the 1960s and worked in Memphis, Tennessee. But he didn’t make his mark as a writer until he started working with FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. After that, he was a songwriter for crosstown rival studio Muscle Shoals Sound Studios.
After that, George Jackson returned to Memphis. Thomas Couch Sr. stated that Jackson died at his home in Ridgeland, Mississippi. He had been sick with cancer for about a year. Couch added, “It was not unexpected, but it’s always too soon.” Couch is the board chairman of Malaco Records.
Malaco bought Muscle Shoals Sound and hired Jackson to write songs, according to the studio’s vice president and chief engineer Wolf Stephenson. Stephenson added:
“George had hooks coming out of his ears. They weren’t all hits, but I never heard him write a bad song. He never really got the recognition that’s normally due a writer of his stature.”
George Jackson and Thomas Jones III wrote “Old Time Rock and Roll.” Bob Seger recorded the hit in 1978. Stephenson added that the song was truly Jackson’s, despite Seger’s claims that he altered it. And Stephenson has the tapes to prove it.
Along with Seger, Jackson also wrote hit songs for the Osmonds and Ike and Tina Turner. He also had songs recorded by James Brown, Wilson Pickett, and Clarence Carter. Couch added of Jackson’s songwriting, “He had a way of seeing things about life and saying them in a way that a lot of other people could relate to.”
Funeral arrangements for George Jackson are still in the works.