Rocky Jackson Bio
Rocky Jackson first made his presence known in the L.A. Blues scene a few years after moving to California from his home in Austin, Texas. Rocky hooked up with the Magic Blues Band (MBB) in 1980 and spent the next eight years playing with the band all around southern California. During those years, the Magic Blues Band was often called upon to play for Southern California Blues Society-sponsored concerts. At one of the first SCBS Blues Festivals in Topanga Canyon, the Magic Blues Band shared the bill with Etta James, Big Joe Turner, and the Chambers Brothers. Other concerts at clubs like The Music Machine gave Rocky a chance to play on bills with blues artists like Joe Louis Walker, Son Seals, Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers, Barbara Lynn, Smokey Wilson, Joe Liggins and the Honeydrippers, J.J. “Bad Boy” Jones, and Sam Taylor. The Magic Blues Band played clubs like the Palomino with James Harman and Maggie Mayall and the Cadillacs, and the Cathay de Grande with Top Jimmy and the Rhythm Pigs.
For several years, the Magic Blues Band played every Friday night at the Starboard Attitude on the Redondo Beach pier. They would often share the weekend there with William Clark’s band. George “Harmonica” Smith was known to drop in and play with the MBB. During these years, the band backed up renowned L.A. singer and harmonica player Johnny Dyer numerous times. When playing clubs like The Lighthouse, Golden Sails, Stage East, Club Lingerie, Sportsman’s Arms, Simply Paul’s, George’s and others, musicians like John “Juke” Logan, John Marx, Alex Shultz, Debbie Davies, Coco Montoya, Joe Yuele, Randy Chortkoff, Steve Fedor, Tim Capella (Tina Turner), and others would sit in with the Magic Blues Band.
In the late ‘90s, Rocky put together the first Rocky Jackson and The Igniters band and played around the area for about a year as a three piece, straight-ahead Blues band. They cut an album, Blue Streak. Copies sent to several Blues radio stations have produced some regular airplay of four songs from the album. In 2005, Rocky formed his performing band of that time, Rocky Jackson and The Ignitors. Rocky released his last album, Squeeze Here, in June 2006. The album featured the Ignitors plus several special guests, including Michael Mennell (Tom Jones), Steve Bach (Musical Director of Cirque du Soleil - Macau), and noted L.A. sax man, Mel Steinberg. The album immediately began receiving airplay and several songs have been in regular rotation since. All thirteen songs, ten of which are Rocky’s, have received airplay. Songs from Squeeze Here have been featured on several stations in Europe, Canada, and the U.S., including the nationally syndicated Blues program broadcast from Texas, Blues Deluxe, as well as Electric Blues 56 and 16, Road Rash Blues, Texas Blues Café, Mark Kerr’s Blues Nation, and many others.
Rocky’s album, Squeeze Here, received very complimentary reviews in Blues Matters! (UK) and Blues Revue magazines, and on Blues websites La Hora del Blues in Spain and Rootstime in Belgium. Reviewers have compared Rocky’s guitar work to early Cray and Clapton. Blues Revue called Rocky “a tough singer and guitarist whose style eschews flash.” Blues Matters! called the album “a truly fine, gritty and expansive Blues album.”
Rocky plays often in the Los Angeles area. Current regular band members include Eliot Witherspoon, drums, and Joel T. Johnson, bass, who have been with Rocky for several years. Michael Fell, long-time harmonica fixture in L.A., joined Rocky a couple of years ago. When Joel was not available, Rocky has used a few different bass players, including Hank Van Sickle (John Mayall), Tom Leavey (Mannish Boys), Rick Reed (Chicago Blues Reunion), and Mike Hightower.
Rocky’s newest album for High Life Records, Testify!, will be officially released on April 20, 2010.