Longtime Beatles associate Tony Bramwell reported Sept. 16 on Facebook that singer Jackie Lomax, whose "Sour Milk Sea" was one of the first records released on the Beatles' Apple Records label, has died. The tabloid news wire Contact Music reported Sept. 16 that Lomax died while on a trip to a family wedding in the UK. He was 69.
“I know he had been ill for some time!," Bramwell said. "I talked to The Undertakers while I was in Liverpool a few weeks ago, and Geoff Nugent said it was looking imminent.”
- UPDATE: Lomax family issues statement
Before recording for Apple, Lomax was a member of the Undertakers, who were voted the 12th most popular group in Mersey Beat's 1961 poll and who rose to fifth most popular the following year, according to Bill Harry's “The Beatles Encyclopedia.” Like the Beatles, the group played Liverpool and in Hamburg at the Star Club and the Top Ten Club there.
Brian Epstein signed his group, the Lomax Alliance, just before his death. Apple Records signed him as a solo artist when the group disbanded after Epstein died. His 1968 debut single, “Sour Milk Sea,” written and produced by George Harrison and featuring George, Paul McCartney and Eric Clapton on guitars and Ringo Starr on drums, was one of the first four records released in an initial promotional push by the Apple label. The flip side, “The Eagle Laughs at You,” also featured Harrison and Eric Clapton, according to Kristofer Englehardt's “The Beatles Deeper Undercover.”
And George Harrison wasn't the only Beatle who tried to help Lomax. According to All Music.com, Paul McCartney produced the singer in March, 1969, covering the Coasters' song "Thumbin' a Ride" and on a Lomax original, "Going Back to Liverpool."
His Apple Records album, “Is This What You Want?”, was released in 1969 first in March in the UK, then in May in the U.S. The album peaked at #145 on the Billboard charts over a nine week stay. Bramwell, in his book, “Magical Mystery Tours: My Life With the Beatles,” says Apple Records was unsuccessful in giving Lomax the success it deserved.
“We tried and tried. The material was great but we just couldn't get it to fly ... We had super production by George Harrison. It looked good, sounded good – and didn't work,” Bramwell wrote. Lomax later moved to Warner Bros. and released "Home Is In My Head." A followup Warners LP, "Three," featured Rick Danko and Levon Helm of the Band.
We met Lomax at a Beatlefest many years ago in Los Angeles. He told us at the time he had never heard the demo of "Sour Milk Sea" recorded by George Harrison that was then circulating on bootlegs.
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