We have resisted including a retrospective feature on David Ackles partly as it seemed increasingly that the artists we were highlighting were mostly deceased and sadly Ackles died at the relatively young age of 62 in 1999. However, listening again to his masterpiece "American Gothic" we decided we could wait no longer.
David Ackles was born into a showbiz family in 1937 and was briefly a child actor appearing in several films from the ' Rusty ' series. After completing a degree in English and masters in film studies he signed to Elektra Records. His eponymous debut released in 1968 was well received, but failed to make much of a commercial impact. The follow up " Subway to the Country " sold even less.
The peak of Ackles short lived recording career came in 1972 when Bernie Taupin produced the heavily orchestrated " American Gothic " and is considered to be his finest work. Despite again being received well by the critics and generously promoted by his record label it once again failed to make any commercial headway and his deal with Elektra came to an end.
Signing to CBS in 1973 he delivered " Five & Dime " which would turn out to be his final album. The material recorded on a tight budget at home was simple and modest. However, this apparent change of direction did little to help his fortunes and the album was only released stateside.
The rest of Ackles life was largely spent away from the music industry working at the University of South Carolina. In 1999 David Ackles died of lung cancer aged 66.
David Ackles has never sold in any great quantities despite numerous and influential fans such as Elvis Costello and Elton John. In hindsight much of his work was ahead of its time with a heavy use of orchestration and dramatic storytelling through song. He remains one of the great songwriters of the 20 th century and deserves a place alongside the likes of Randy Newman, Scott Walker and Jacques Brel. That he remains ignored and largely unknown is perplexing to say the least.
David Ackles (1968)
Subway to the Country (1970)
American Gothic (1972)
Five & Dime (1973)
Public Image Ltd
John Cooper Clarke
The Incredible String Band