A formidable singer, guitarist, songwriter and storyteller, his work, like many of the musical greats, falls into a category of its own. With some justification his outpourings have been called "Celtic Soul" and Jackie lives in an ancestral line that includes the likes of Van Morrison, Lightnin' Hopkins and unnamed singers of worksongs from all corners of the earth who share a universal voice.
Jackie first made a serious impact upon the UK music scene in the late 70s with rock band DOLL BY DOLL, a hard-hitting classic 2 guitars, bass and drums outfit that beguiled audiences when they weren't scaring the pants off them with a rare on- stage intensity. The band made five superb albums of warped melodic rock music (one unreleased), but were perhaps fatally out of step with the punk / new wave preoccupations of those times.
Following serious illness (see further information), Jackie's return to record-making was marked by the release of the remarkable and widely acclaimed Cooking Vinyl album "THE MYSTERY OF LOVE IS GREATER THAN THE MYSTERY OF DEATH" which included poetry readings by the great American poet Robert Bly, and ex-Waterboy Mike Scott. This album was the first in a stream of albums for Cooking Vinyl, all critically acclaimed, namely FORBIDDEN SONGS OF THE DYING WEST, THE ARGYLL CYCLE and FAIRYTALES FOR HARDMEN. NIGHT LILIES continues this honored series.
Such consistent recording excellence plus a constant grueling touring schedule is giving Jackie a growing worldwide audience which receives the candor, tenderness and raw power that characterizes his work on stage and on record.
the core trust
In the early 1980's, Jackie was nearly murdered by strangulation in an unprovoked attack in a London street whilst walking home from recording. Unable to speak or sing for over a year and in considerable pain, he sought pain management with heroin, the classic drug of despair. Deciding after a year of addiction that he 'wanted his life back', he released himself from addiction via a method of his own making which utilized acupuncture, psychic healing and reflexology.
This was so successful that it became formalized as a method, he co-founded THE CORE TRUST, a registered addictions charity in central London, and CORE continues to this day to offer the same treatment to people with all forms of addiction.
CORE's success rate is among the highest in Europe, and in her lifetime, Diana, Princess of Wales was a champion and supporter of the Trust, being guest of honor at fundraising events and officially opening the center's premises.
robert bly / gender issues / the men's movement
In the early 90s, Jackie became close friends with ROBERT BLY, possibly America's greatest living poet, foreshadower of the so-called MEN'S MOVEMENT, and one of the most wise and articulate voices on gender issues on the planet.
The two worked together and with RICHARD OLIVIER and pre-eminent American psychologist JAMES HILLMAN in the UK and the USA, bringing together large groups of men to consider issues of manhood for up to a week at a time in remote locations.
Jackie has since become a prominent figure and spokesman, writing, talking and broadcasting on such issues throughout the world.
WHAT THEY SAID ABOUT JACKIE LEVEN: 'Leven's majestic voice is one of the most noble instruments in popular music' The Independent 'A songwriter of rare gifts, a guitarist of great lyricism and one of the best male rock voices these islands have ever produced' Q
'Jackie Leven is one of the really great white soul voices of our time ; with Doll by Doll, he made some of the most passionate, violent and disturbing rock'n'roll ever' Vox
'Leven has a voice as big as his 'Sacred Heart' and his material, in the rich vein of Celtic performers such as Van Morrison, John Martyn and Mike Scott, confronts issues head on' Independent on Sunday
'The man's brooding presence is magnetic' Q
THE ALBUMS 1994: The Mystery of Love is Greater Than the Mystery of Death One of Q magazine's top 20 albums of the year
'Leven has come back with music so rich and powerful it makes the work of many younger men seem insipid and immature - awesome and beautiful' Q
1995: Forbidden Songs of the Dying West
'nothing less than astonishing - a true masterpiece in a marketplace of replicas' Detroit News
'one of the best albums of the year' Independent
1996: The Argyll Cycle - Vol. One
'one of the best albums of the year'. Talk of goose-pimpling music is a critical cliche but hearing Leven sing really does produce a response somewhere along the back of the neck TIME OUT
1997: Fairytales for Hardmen
'a remarkable comeback and a remarkable recording' BUZZ