The LOST Will & Testament of Jake Thackray with John Watterson | PLAYHOUSE Whitely Bay

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The LOST Will & Testament of Jake Thackray with John Watterson


  • Date: Friday 17th March 2017
  • Time: 7.30 pm

The LOST Will & Testament of Jake Thackray with John Watterson

For the past three years John Watterson has been researching to write the first biography on the late Jake Thackray, with the help of Jake’s family, friends and fellow performers. In the course of this research, John has uncovered 15 songs written by Jake but never released - some have lain, forgotten, in the BBC archives for decades, some have never been heard at all. These songs, along with never-before told stories from the biography research (plus some much loved Jake classics) feature in John’s 2017 tour ‘The LOST Will and Testament of Jake Thackray’.

The Songs

The ‘lost songs’ span two decades of Jake’s writing. They take a wide variety of approaches: comic songs from Braden’s Week (The Ferry Boat, When Lucy Comes), topical ‘point numbers’ about items in the news (The Municipal Workers’ Strike and the startlingly direct and political God Bless America) and songs written as jokes for family and friends (e.g. the surreal Our Dog and Tortoise, two children’s songs such as only Jake could have written). You will also find here serious, mature masterpieces from later in Jake’s career, the songs of a true Yorkshire chansonnier, bearing the influence of his hero, the legendary French singer, Georges Brassens. The Bull is a brilliant, ballsy (literally!) attack on hierarchies, celebrity culture and pomposity. The Cenotaph and The Remembrance are astonishing and profound anti-war songs, and Side by Side, focusing on the tribal barriers people erect, could scarcely be more serious or relevant. Also included are what may be the last song Jake wrote (The Berm House – an eco-friendly love song), and a legendary, unfinished song (Kinnell), reconstructed from Jake’s manuscript.

Jake and his influence

Leeds-born Jake Thackray (1938-2002) is increasingly recognised as being one of the greatest English songwriters of the twentieth century, a unique talent, whose songs are full of poetry, wit, irreverence and humanity. His distinctive appearance, deadpan delivery, talent for storytelling, clever wordplay, occasional, artful use of vulgarity and surreal imagination delighted many viewers and outraged some. Since his death in obscurity there has been growing recognition of his genius and a resurgence of interest in his work. His admirers include Jarvis Cocker, Alex Turner, Don Black, Thea Gilmore, Cerys Matthews, Benjamin Clementine and Neil Gaiman.

John Watterson

John Watterson is the UK’s leading performer of Jake’s songs. As Fake Thackray he has toured with Fairport Convention and performed at Latitude, Cropredy and the Edinburgh Fringe Festivals. He has also played for Jake’s family. He has appeared many times on radio, including Radio 4’s Great Lives and Radio 3’s The Verb, and is researching a biography of Jake. It was in the course of his research that John realised the quality and quantity of unreleased songs and, at the suggestion of  Jake’s long-time friend, Ralph McTell, started recording sessions. These recordings are the result. The project has the full support of Jake’s family.


Praise for  ‘The Lost Will and Testament of Jake Thackray’

Sam Thackray

 ‘We are so pleased that Dad’s work lives on through John’s brilliant performances and recordings’.

Ralph McTell (Friend and fellow performer)

‘John Watterson’s joy in performing Jake’s wonderful songs is obvious My dear friend Jake was a modest and shy man, but I think he would be quietly grinning in approval. Jake lives again through this performance, which is a wonderful celebration of the life and work a unique and sadly missed artist.’

Victor Lewis-Smith (Producer, 'Jake on the Box' BBC 4)

 ‘Wonderful stuff, bringing some of Jake's long-forgotten gems back to life. Brilliantly performed songs, with uncannily precise enunciation, and accurately capturing the unique Thackray guitar style. If Jake was right, and there really is an afterlife, he'll undoubtedly be looking down and giving his gruff approval.’

Don Black (Lyricist and radio presenter)

‘Terrific interpretations.’ 

Neil Gaiman (Co-Author with Terry Pratchett)

 ‘It's wonderful to hear songs by the inimitable Jake Thackray we simply hadn't known about, and to hear them so close to how he might have performed them...?’


Special Guests Pete Scott & Hired Hands


  • Date: Friday 17th March 2017
  • Time: 7.30 pm
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  • Doors to Bars: 6.30 pm

    Doors to Seats: 7 pm

    Show Start - Pete Scott & Hired Hands: 7.30 pm

    Interval: 8.20 pm

    Second Half: 8.35 pm

    End: 9.50 pm