George Jackson, ‘Old Time Rock and Roll’ Songwriter, Dies at 68
Covered by Cat Power, sampled by Ghostface Killah
Muscle Shoals, Alabama, in the ’60s and ’70s was home to some of the era’s greatest musical talent, but not all of its artists received their proper due. George Jackson, who co-wrote eventual Bob Seger hit “Old Time Rock and Roll” plus hundreds of other rock and soul songs, was one of them. As the AP reports, Jackson has died at 68 in his home outside Jackson, Mississippi, after falling ill with cancer about a year ago.
The Mississippi native spent time in Memphis, Tennessee, but made his name working in Muscle Shoals’ FAME Studios and Muscle Shoals Sound Studios, writing songs for James Brown, Wilson Pickett, Clarence Carter, and more. Jackson’s own singing performances mostly came out on singles, but a 2011 reissue of of his FAME tracks titled Don’t Count Me Out is available; he sang and co-produced the gorgeously devastating “Aretha, Sing One for Me,” which has been sampled by Ghostface Killah and covered by Cat Power.
“George had hooks coming out of his ears,” Wolf Stephenson of Muscle Shoals Sound Studios owner Malaco told the AP. “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.”
Watch a clip above of Jackson singing “Old Time Rock and Roll” at the Muscle Shoals Music Association’s Songfest 2002. Below, listen to ZZ Hill’s 1982 “Down Home Blues,” a Jackson-written song the Malaco label cites as a touchstone.