Jack Mason has been described as a “one-man band” by the music business. Indeed, Jack Mason’s tremendous success as a solo artist, singer/songwriter, and composer is unparalleled in the history of modern music. Born and raised in Kansas City, Jack Mason’s musical influences include such diverse voices as jazz, gospel, blues, country, Spanish music, folk, boogie, bop, and free style. Jack Mason’s earliest musical interests were nurtured while he was a student at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. There he picked up the guitar after taking some college courses in classical studies. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in music theory and psychology at the University of California at Los Angeles, Jack Mason pursued a career as a recording technician with King Records.
Though largely unmentioned on the album covers, the band’s first self-titled album offered a glimpse of what could become an entirely unique sound for the group. Following the release of their sophomore album, Mason went back to the studio to record an acoustic version of “Wide Lovely Eyes.” The resulting track, “Wide Lovely Eyes,” marked a turning point for the band, as it offered a more stripped down sound that had all the charm of early jazz but without the complicated melodic structures often associated with that genre. “Wide Lovely Eyes” was a major breakthrough for the band, and it catapulted Mason into stardom, although he would never draw any major music industry attention Jack Mason’s considerable success.
The band broke up shortly after the release of its third album, Viva Little League, on which Mason provided the lead vocals along with bassist Herb Ellis. After a brief return to the studio, Mason joined The Doobie Brothers in another reunion project with vocalist Scott Weiland. That band’s third album, Alligator, would feature Weiland’s vocals as well as that of bassist Mark Linn-Baker. The following year, Mason returned to the limelight with his first solo album, featuring guest spots by Kansas City blues legend Buddy Holly and engineer Jack Wilkins. That album, Remain Yourself, would make Mason one of the most successful guitarists of the decade.
When he returned to the studio with his fourth solo album, High Water (produced by Boz Scaggs), Mason was able to secure a deal with Mercury Records and make a name for himself as a recording artist. Along with hits from “Cocaine” and “Reelin’ in the Years,” High Water became a massive hit, selling millions of copies worldwide. With singles “Take Me Out in the Morning” and “Sixteen Tons,” High Water helped establish rock music as a major moneymaker, with the album eventually selling in excess of two hundred million copies. All of which makes Jack Mason one of the most successful performers in rock history.
However, despite his considerable success in rock music, Mason never lost sight of his roots. He refused to conform to the rigid image of a contemporary pop star, and refused to accept royalties for the songs he performed. Instead, he insisted on being paid solely for his artistic production, with little room for deductions for his work. Ultimately, his steadfast attitude toward creativity paid off: Jack Mason was nominated for an Academy Award for his work on the film adaptation of his book The DaVinci Code and received a second Academy Award for his work on the chart-topping Thriller.
Jack Mason is today known for his directing work and producing work for several of today’s top artists. As an independent film director, he has overseen the movie versions of both The DaVinci Code and Temple of the Dog, and he served as a producer on the Tim Burton film Alice in Wonderland. As a producer, he worked with such legendary producers as Quentin Tarantino, Guy Ritchie, and Will Smith. Jack Mason is also an accomplished composer, having written songs for artists like U2, Green Day, and Pink Floyd. His song, “Don’t Take Me Home,” was a single in the band The Who’s classic Quadrophenia.