Monday, 25 July 2016

The harrowing tale of Jackson C. Frank and the Cleveland Hill School fire of 1954

My son sent me a link to an artist Id never even heard of before, a haunting song called "I want to be alone".  Who was this person with such a beautiful haunting voice? My search led me to quite a tragic tale.

In summary he was seriously injured as a child in the Cleveland Hill School fire of 1954 when a furnace exploded and killed 15 of his classmates including his then girlfriend Marlene.

I want to be Alone

Jackson was sometimes referred to as "the most famous folk singer of the 1960s no one knew of." He never really made the big time although a lot of his songs were covered by other artists. 

Written about his girlfriend killed in the fire

After his son died of cystic fibrosis he slipped back into depression and was committed to a mental institution. He ended up homeless, sleeping on the sidewalk, and lost an eye when shot by some kids with an air rifle. During this time he found himself in and out of various psychiatric institutions and treated for alleged paranoid schizophrenia but he away's denied this, maintaining it was depression caused by the fire. Frank died of pneumonia and cardiac arrest in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, on March 3, 1999, at the age of 56

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