I was sad to hear of the gret Deon Jackson's passing a few days ago; while the man hasbeen out of the music business for 40 years, the records he recorded are some of the sweetest sweet soul ever cut to wax. I'm not sure if he was still working (or retired) as a high school principal in the Chicago suburbs at the time of his death, but that was a gig that he held down for many, many years. One wonders if the kids knew about Mr. Jackson's earlier life as a professional singer.
While Deon is mostly thought of as a one hit wonder (the glorious 'Love Makes The World Go Round', 1966) several of his other releases reach the same level of quality as that hit.
Deon Jackson hailed from Ann Arbor, MI (near Detroit), and the majority of his records were produced by the wonderful Ollie McLaughlin. Ollie was a versatile and innovative producer whose work ranges from artists such as Del Shannon, Chet Baker, and Barbara Lewis (upon whom Ollie employed a similar production style that may have been sweet and light but still as soulful as can be).
Deon's gorgeous voice is showcased beautifully on 'I Need A Love Like Yours' (1968); the song was released two years after his big hit, and even though a who's-who's of Detroit heavy hitters were involved (Ollie McLaughlin, brilliant arranger Mike Terry, and songwriter/ raconteur Richard 'Popcorn' Wylie), the song failed to reach the hit status that it truly deserved. Deon's vocal positively soars on this track, and the coda especially is almost unspeakably beautiful.
Detroit musician Mike Terry was a masterful arranger, and his indelible mark is felt on Deon's excellent uptempo outing 'That's What You Do To Me'. This record was the second followup 45 to 'Love Makes The World Go Round', and yet another record that should have been a hit, in addition to showing that Deon was a versatile vocalist that could just as easily own an uptempo groover. The track *has* been a favorite spin on the northern soul scene though since the 1970's, and for good reason- it's the type of track that, when it's playing, will make you feel good all over.
Deon Jackson ended his musical career in the classiest way possible with yet another amazing vocal performance on 'I'll Always Love You'. Some may say that the production of this record is a tad bit overblown, but at the focal point is that VOICE. Just listen to how this man had such wonderful pitch control and glides in and around pitches and gradually gains power and grit up until the climax of the record. Pure soul! Being as this was produced by Leroy Hutson (a solo artist himself, and also a collaborator with Donny Hathaway and Curtis Mayfield's replacement in The Impressions) I'm assuming that Deon had made the move to Chicago by the time this record was cut.
Mr Deon Jackson, thank you for this music.