R.I.P. legendary and under-rated singer Jackie Leven succumbs to cancer, aged just 61

Posted: 15th November 2011

It seems as though Death has been rather busy this year - now the cruel hand of fate has just brushed the shoulders of another talented and largely-ignored musician in the shape of Jackie Leven. He passed away on Monday night after a long struggle with cancer - he was 61.

Leven was born in Kirkcaldy in Scotland in 1950 and started out as John St Field, before forming atmospheric folk-rock outfit Doll By Doll in the late '70s. With one foot in traditional Scottish rock and another in the new-wave movement of the time, they once shared tour-dates with Ultravox (the Foxx-era) before disbanding in 1982 after a string of highly-regarded albums, including their self-titled third album in 1980.

After the demise of the group, Jackie went solo and built himself a considerable legacy under the guidance of renowned indie-label, Cooking Vinyl. His first commercially-available album, "Songs from the Argyll Cycle, Vol 1", appeared in 1994. It was to be the first of a prolific release schedule that occasionally resulted in more than one album a year - "The Haunted Year", a homage to the four seasons, being a fine example. Other albums include "The Mystery of Love is Greater Than the Mystery of Death", "Night Lillies" and "Jackie Leven Said", with novelist Ian Rankin.

Cited as an influence by many younger musicians and older fans alike, Jackie Leven's obscurity wasn't helped by his drug addiction (he finally kicked it in later years), but his emotive and moving music lives on. Check out the almost poppy "Snow in Central Park" in the video above.

Gigging until the end, Jackie was to be playing in his native Scotland this week as well as further dates running into 2012.

Paul Pledger