Musician Susan Jacks in an undated file photo. (Special to The News)

Musician Susan Jacks in an undated file photo. (Special to The News)

OBITUARY

Tributes pour in for Susan Jacks, singer of ’60s pop hit ‘Which Way You Goin’ Billy,’ dead at age 73

BC Entertainment Hall of Fame inductee lived in Maple Ridge before shooting to fame

Pop singer/songwriter Susan Jacks has passed away, according to family and friends.

Born in Saskatoon as Susan Elizabeth Pesklevits in 1948, as one of eight children, Jacks lived in Maple Ridge for a short period of time with her family, before she shot to international fame as part of the Poppy Family with then-husband Terry Jacks.

According to her brother, Rick Pesklevits, Jacks was singing regularly by the age of 7 on the radio on Saturday afternoons, before the family moved to the community of Haney, in Maple Ridge, where Jacks, then 9, used to sing in school and church choirs.

Jacks had her own radio show by the time she was 13, and at 15 was a regular on the Canadian musical variety TV show called Music Hop.

She first met singer/songwriter/guitarist Terry Jacks in 1966 when she was 16-years-old and invited him to accompany her on guitar at an upcoming performance, explained her brother in an online statement from the family.

Soon afterward, he said the Poppy Family emerged with Craig McCaw on lead guitar and Satwant Singh on the tablas.

Jacks’ first recording, 1969’s “Which Way You Goin’ Billy,” sold three million records worldwide and became #1 in Canada and #2 on Billboard in the U.S. A string of hits followed, notes a bio on the BC Entertainment Hall of Fame website.

In 1980, she recorded “Ghosts,” which also received a Juno nomination. Jacks moved to Nashville in 1983. While there, she recorded “Tall Dark Stranger” which gave her another Juno nomination and won her Best New Country Artist in Oklahoma. She became a staff songwriter for a Nashville Publishing Company. In 2004, she returned to Vancouver and resumed her singing career.

Jacks was inducted into the B.C. Entertainment Hall of Fame in June 2010 and received a star on the Granville Street Walk of Fame.

“In 2016, the singer was hospitalized due to potentially fatal kidney problems,” says a post on imdb.com. “She recovered completely and returned to the studio in 2018 to record a new album.”

However, her brother said, she did not recover completely and, in fact, lost her transplanted kidney due to an infection in 2016.

“She died while on the waiting list for a new organ,” he noted online.

“Those who knew Susan will remember her as an amazing sister, a cherished friend, a loving mother,” her brother eulogized.

“She had a beautiful voice that she loved to share with the world. Susan always had a gentle and caring nature, and an indomitable will to face every challenge she found in her way. Throughout her long professional music career and her difficult health challenges in recent years, she was a fighter to the end,” he said.

In White Rock, Jacks performed at Blue Frog Studio back in the summer of 2014.

“So sorry to hear about Susan passing,” studio operator Kelly Breaks posted to Facebook. “She was always a class act when she performed.”

Singer Burton Cummings tweeted about Jacks’ death early Tuesday.

“Sad to hear about Susan Jacks’ passing. I remember her as charming, warm and down to earth,” he wrote.

On Facebook, DJ and broadcaster Red Robinson said Jacks “lit up our lives at an early age with her CBC-TV ‘Let’s Go’ appearances, then her career with The Poppy Family and solo success. She’ll be missed by many.”

Pesklevits said his sister was shown immense kindness during her stays at Surrey Memorial Hospital, adding that the family wanted to express their gratitude to the nurses, doctors and other health-care workers who cared for her.

That is where the longtime musician died of kidney failure on Monday morning (April 25). She was 73.

A celebration of life is being planned for a later date. Jacks’ family are asking in lieu of flowers for donations to be made to the Kidney Foundation of Canada.

To read the full family statement go to facebook.com/rick.pesklevits.

CLICK HERE to read more about Jacks and her career on Wikipedia.



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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