“Henry Cow ended up taking me for a curry then driving me home - best gig ever!” Jakko Jakszyk’s highs and lows

Jakko Jakszyk posing with his guitar

King Crimson may or may not return – but in 2016 they were enjoying a live resurgence with a seven-member line-up that included Jakko Jakszyk. That year he took part in a Q&A with Prog, revealing some of his highs and lows.

Home is…
Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire. I’m a 20-minute drive from [King Crimson drummer] Gavin Harrison, a 20-minute drive from [saxist] Mel Collins. Robert Fripp calls it ‘The Crimson Triangle.’

Earliest prog memory?
When I was 11, my neighbour would play me music and he had an Island Records sampler called Nice Enough To Eat [1969]. One of the tracks on that was [Crimson’s 21st Century] Schizoid Man.

First prog record bought, and where?
Air Conditioning by Curved Air, in 1970, from a shop on Lower High Street, Watford.

First prog gig attended?
King Crimson at Watford Town Hall, July ’71. I was 13. Followed quickly by Yes supported by Brinsley Schwarz at Hemel Hempstead Pavilion.

What’s the guiltiest pleasure in your record collection?
I genuinely love a single called Stole by [ex-Destiny’s Child] Kelly Rowland. It’s very musical. I think k.d. lang is an amazing singer, and my favourite current guitarist is actually [blues slide player] Derek Trucks.

What would your prog Mastermind subject be?
Either Crimson or Henry Cow. Or Watford Football Club under Graham Taylor!

What has been your biggest prog extravagance?
I’m not that extravagant, but when I first signed a big record deal, I bought my parents a holiday in the Grand Bahamas.

Favourite venue?
I like the Albert Hall to play – it’s big but it’s in the round so feels intimate. But to see a band, The Rainbow.

Outside of prog, what are you into?
Football. I play twice a week, and I’m a Watford fan too. I’m also a theatre buff and see a lot of comedy. I was a film buff, until I had children…

Who is your prog hero?
Robert [Fripp], and Frank Zappa.

What do you collect?
Up to a point, I collected everything Robert, Crimson and Zappa ever recorded, but then I lost the collector bug. I also used to collect expensive vintage guitars, but most of them have gone the way of all tax bills.

What was the last prog album you bought?
Actually paid for? The Shaming Of The True by Kevin Gilbert. He was a West Coast musician who obviously listened to a lot of English prog. The album tells a story, the lyrics are astute and musically it’s amazing.

And the last prog gig you attended?
Steven Wilson at Hammersmith Odeon in January.

Have you ever been on a prog-related date?
Around 1975 I took my glamorous then-girlfriend Geraldine to see Gentle Giant and she kind of fell in love with Ray Shulman – couldn’t stop talking about him after. I was very pissed off. It almost put me off them altogether.

Who in the prog fraternity do you call for a good night out?
Nick Beggs is always enormous fun. He’s a great, great laugh.

What’s the most important prog song for you personally?
Prince Rupert’s Lament, off Crimson’s Lizard.

Who’s the prog muso you’d most like to work with?
Kate Bush or Peter Gabriel.

What prog album would you play to get you in a good mood?
Legend by Henry Cow.

Who’s the best prog artist you’ve ever seen live?
Henry Cow, at St Albans College back when I was 14. They ended up taking me for a curry, then driving me home. Best gig ever!

What’s a good proggy read?
The Terrible Privacy Of Maxwell Sim by Jonathan Coe. It’s a brilliant book.

What’s your favourite prog album cover?
In The Court Of The Crimson King. So much so I have it on one of my PRS guitars.

Favourite piece of technology?
iPhones and iPads. Being able to read books and newspapers, and to communicate on the move, is great.

Grant Moon

A music journalist for over 20 years, Grant writes regularly for titles including Prog, Classic Rock and Total Guitar, and his CV also includes stints as a radio producer/presenter and podcast host. His first book, 'Big Big Train - Between The Lines', is out now through Kingmaker Publishing.