Terry Jacks was born and raised in Winnipeg. His family relocated to Vancouver in the early 1960s. Jacks took up guitar in his teens and at 18 formed a band called The Chessmen with guitarist Guy Sobell. The group had four top-ten hits in Vancouver between 1964 and 1966.
Following The Chessmen, Terry and Susan Pesklevits (Susan Jacks), whom he later married, formed The Poppy Family along with Craig McCaw and Satwant Singh. They had several hits in Canada and internationally, their biggest being "Which Way You Goin' Billy?", which went to #1 in Canada and #2 on the Billboard charts in the U.S. The song was written and produced by Terry Jacks which earned him a Gold Leaf (Juno) award in 1970 for his production.
The song "Seasons in the Sun" was originally intended for the Beach Boys, with Jacks serving as producer for the recording. However, after the group decided not to release it, Jacks decided to record it himself in late 1973 on his own record label, Goldfish Records, which became the largest-selling international single by a Canadian artist at that time, eventually selling 14 million copies worldwide. It earned Jacks two Juno Awards and became one of the biggest selling Canadian Singles of all time.
The song was based on Rod McKuen's 1965 re-write of "Le moribond", originally by Belgian singer Jacques Brel from 1962. For his version, Jacks made some modifications to the lyrics, which along with McKuen's, resulted in a work that bears little resemblance to Brel's original in tone, substance or poetry. In the United States, in Great Britain and in Germany, it was released on Bell Records, and the song went to #1 on the charts. In Canada it was released on his own label, Goldfish Records, distributed by London Records Canada.
Jacks later released "If You Go Away" (another McKuen adaptation of a Jacques Brel song entitled "Ne Me Quitte Pas"), which reached #8 in Great Britain and #24 in Germany, and a cover of Kevin Johnson's "Rock 'N' Roll (I Gave You The Best Years Of My Life)", both of which had more success in Canada but also made the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the U.S. He wrote and recorded a number of other songs, and went on to produce for many artists, including the Beach Boys' single "Crazy Talk" and "There's Something I Like About That" for Chilliwack, from their album Riding High.
Jacks produced two songs for Nana Mouskouri: "Scarborough Fair" and "Loving Arms" in 1976. He produced the Vancouver top 10 hit "Country Boy Named Willy" for "SPRING" on London Records (#38 Canada), and Valdy's original version of "Rock and Roll Song" (b/w sometime "Sunday Morning"). The record was scheduled for release on London Records but was re-recorded in Los Angeles with another producer when Valdy signed a recording contract. He also spent a lot of time with Buddy Knox in the 1970s and produced a single for him with two songs: "Me and You" (written by Jacks) and the George Jones song "White Lightnin'"; the single remains unreleased. Jacks also went on to produce a number of other artists in the 1980s and 1990s, including DOA, who recorded a punk rock version of "Where Evil Grows".
In 2011, Jacks' friend Al Jardine released a new version of "Don't Fight The Sea", recorded along with fellow Beach Boys Mike Love, Brian Wilson, Bruce Johnston and the late Carl Wilson, who sang part of the lead vocal. A limited edition white vinyl 45 was made and sold to benefit Japanese tsunami victims. His latest release, Starfish On the Beach, is a double CD compilation containing 40 of Jacks' favorite tracks from the last 40 years, and features some of his biggest hits of the 70s and 80s. The package contains a 32-page booklet with never before seen photos and Terry's recollections of his musical journey. It is available from www.regeneratorrecords.com and in select stores throughout Canada.
Jacks has worked in documentary film and video, producing several shorts on environmental themes including The Faceless Ones, The Tragedy of Clearcutting, The Southern Chilcotin Mountains and The Warmth of Love (The Four Seasons of Sophie Thomas) with cinematographer Ian Hinkle. The video production The Faceless Ones earned an Environmental Gold Award from the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival.
In the late 1970s, Jacks gradually withdrew from the music world. He had a daughter, born in 1985. In the 1980s Jacks became involved in the environmental movement, focusing on pulp mill pollution issues in Canada. His environmental work has earned him several awards including one from the United Nations Association of Canada and the Western Canada Wilderness Committee. He was awarded a lifetime achievement award in 1997 for his work, as well as the Eugene Rogers Environmental Award.Seasons in the Sun (1974)
Y' Don't Fight the Sea (1975)
Just Like That (1987)
Starfish on the Beach (2015)