Jackie Lomax, Who Recorded with Three Beatles in 1968, Dead at 69

Guitarist, singer and songwriter Jackie Lomax died Monday, September 16, at age 69.

Although Beatles fans will most likely remember Lomax for recording a George Harrison-penned track called "Sour Milk Sea" in 1968, Lomax originally rose to prominence as a member of a Merseybeat group called the Undertakers in the early ’60s.

That band's success led to their quickly acquiring the services of Beatles manager Brian Epstein, which eventually led to a friendship with the Beatles and a recording contract with their label, Apple Records.

In 1969, Lomax released a highly regarded solo album, Is This What You Want?, on Apple. It was produced by Harrison and featured contributions by Harrison, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and Eric Clapton. However, despite its impressive guest list, the album didn't make it past No. 145 on the Billboard album chart.

Although Lomax never enjoyed commercial success, he continued to release R&B-influenced music, including 1971′s Home Is in My Head He remained musically active throughout the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s and beyond, doing time in several short-lived bands and resurfacing to record the occasional record.

In 2001, he released The Ballad of Liverpool Slim and launched into touring mode, even making an appearance at the 2002 Bowlful of Blues festival, where he told interviewer Richard Nelson, “I don’t want to sound like anybody else … If you don’t write your own material, you’re kind of wasting your time. I think originality is the focus of the game, you know?”

Lomax died on the Wirral Peninsula in North West England.

More about "Sour Milk Sea"

The song, which was recorded and released in 1968, is legendary because it is very nearly a Beatles recording.

Like a lot of Beatles songs, "Sour Milk Sea" was recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London. Also like a lot of Beatles songs, it was written by Harrison and features Harrison on lead guitar, McCartney on bass and Starr on drums.

John Lennon didn't take part in the session. However, we get to hear the brilliance of Cream's Eric Clapton (who played on the Beatles' "While My Guitar Gently Weeps") and ace session keyboardist Nicky Hopkins (who played on the Beatles' "Revolution") on piano.

That's Lomax on vocals.

"I wrote 'Sour Milk Sea' in Rishikesh, India," Harrison said. "I never actually recorded the song. It was done by Jackie Lomax on his album Is This What You Want? It's based on Vishvasara Tantra, from Tantric art. 'What is here is elsewhere, what is not here is nowhere.' It's a picture, and the picture is called Sour Milk Sea — Kalladadi Samudra in Sanskrit. I used Sour Milk Sea as the idea of — if you're in the shit, don't go around moaning about it: Do something about it."

"Sour Milk Sea" was released as a Jackie Lomax single in August 1968 on Apple Records.

"With Eric Clapton playing on it, it was on fire," Lomax said. "When the backing tape was played back, I thought it worked as an instrumental. 'You want me to sing on top of that?!' There I am in the studio and there are three Beatles in the control room watching me ... I guess I was nervous at first, but after a couple of takes I was into it."

Clapton's jamming guitar solo starts at 1:50; Harrison's melody-based guitar solo starts at 2:08. Enjoy!

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Damian Fanelli
Editor-in-Chief, Guitar World

Damian is Editor-in-Chief of Guitar World magazine. In past lives, he was GW’s managing editor and online managing editor. He's written liner notes for major-label releases, including Stevie Ray Vaughan's 'The Complete Epic Recordings Collection' (Sony Legacy) and has interviewed everyone from Yngwie Malmsteen to Kevin Bacon (with a few memorable Eric Clapton chats thrown into the mix). Damian, a former member of Brooklyn's The Gas House Gorillas, was the sole guitarist in Mister Neutron, a trio that toured the U.S. and released three albums. He now plays in two NYC-area bands.