Photo courtesy of Facebook/Giles McCrary

We’re fed up with the Big C, that sorry thief in the night that just stole another good person. Cancer’s latest victim was a local musician, songwriter, guitar builder, music teacher, deluxe storyteller, and genuinely funny guy. Greg Jackson was 69. The longtime Arlington resident died on Saturday at his home, sitting upright on his couch, said David Giddens, who was among a handful of people visiting Jackson when he died.

Cancer took Jackson’s wife Kay last spring. Jackson became ill a few months later and was diagnosed with lung cancer in August.

Jackson, who often described his music career as “funner than having your own duck,” played in many bands over the years but was most associated with the Salt Lick Foundation. That band’s debut album, Rural Lust & Urban Rust, dropped in 1980, followed by Daynce of the Peckerwoods in 1982, and Salt Lick Sockeroos in 1985. The bluegrass band continued to play and record for another three decades. Dr. Demento, the nationally syndicated radio host who specialized in the bizarre, took a shining to Salt Lick in the 1980s and made them frequent guests on The Dr. Demento Show over the years.


Bandmate Michael H. Price described Jackson as “a role model for the art of living joyously.”

Other bands that included Jackson were the Draught String Band, Buffalo Grass, Bluebonnet Plague, City Lights Singers, Musical Miscreants, Self-Righteous Brothers, and the Bruton & Price Swingmasters Revue.

Jackson and his sister, Kathleen, anchored Tanstaafl Pub’s Thursday night acoustic bluegrass jam sessions for years. Kathleen plays a mean upright bass, and her brother was a badass on numerous stringed instruments but particularly guitar and dobro. He wrote heartfelt songs but might have been most appreciated for his many humorous, offbeat novelty songs such as “Short’nin’ Men (The Ballad of Lorena Bobbitt)” and politically satirical ditties. All were delivered with a deep, booming voice and twinkling eyes.

We first met Jackson in the mid-1990s at Tanstaafl Pub and were blown away by his knowledge of guitar chords and his ability to play a tasty lead break while also keeping rhythm and alternating bass going simultaneously.

Giddens, too, met Jackson for the first time at one of those Thursday night jams about 20 years ago. Shortly after, Giddens signed up for guitar and dobro lessons with the man he described as “ornery, generous, and patient, often simultaneously.”

His new teacher’s favorite line for struggling students: “It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t, bankers and lawyers would do it.”

Jackson didn’t just teach music. He taught people, or, more accurately, showed by example how to traverse life’s peaks and valleys with humor and grace intact. Giddens took to his Facebook page, writing about how he and Jackson spent “several well lubricated years alternating between instrument instruction and construction, and his hilarious storytelling. It was as good an education as I ever had in any endeavor.”


  1. I didn’t know Mr. Jackson. I certainly would like to pass my condolences to his friends and family. I’ve known so many people who have died from cancer, or had it, in this area. A coworker just lost her father this week. People keep saying that they are tired of what seems like a cancer epidemic, in this area, but they do nothing about it. The documentary, Gasland II, showed a map with a huge benzene plume, hanging over the DFW area. All of this natural gas, is being held in storage tanks, and the benzene is being vented into the air that we breathe. THAT pollution is worse than all of the automobile emissions in the area. Bush and Cheney had to give the oil and gas industry, a pass on the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts. Forgive me for turning the deaths of Mr. Jackson and so many others into a political statement, but it’s time that people fought back. We only need to look to Denton County to see what party is shoving this poison into our bodies. Corporations don’t care if they kill you. They aren’t people. Their only moral, is to make a profit

  2. I knew Greg in 1982 and 1983. I was just out of college, moved to Dallas and didn’t know anyone and got connected to Salt Lick through Ron Green the bass player. Greg was always very kind to me and made me feel part of the Salt Lick family. I have always thought of him fondly over these many years.

  3. Deeply saddened to hear of Greg’s passing on. His considerable talent aside, he was just a pleasant, entertaining individual to be around whether performing or in the art of lifting a glass with. What strange coincidence that I came across this trying to find out if the Thursday Bluegrass Jam was still going on at Tannstaffl. A friend of mine just lost her husband to lung cancer in March of this year to lung cancer. He too was a musician playing similar music. I thought it might be helpful. Best wishes to Kathleen, Al and all the rest of the gang.

  4. I played with Greg in a band called buffalo grass back in 1975-76,,, I was only 16 at the time and Greg was a grown up in his 20s…I drove him crazy asking him to play songs I liked on the guitar{I played the banjo}…He was fun… and full of the light… I was caught off guard to find this site thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends…

  5. I knew Greg before he moved south. I spent many hours listening to him and occasionally to his father. But mostly it was Greg. I had never seen a 12 string guitar or heard of an arch-top Martin until I met him. I am lucky enough to a copy of his Far Away Friends CD and the Outskirts CD by City Light singers. I listen to them regularly and remember good times.