Susan Jacks dead and obituary, Who Sang ‘Which Way You Goin’ Billy?

Susan Jacks, lead singer of Canadian pop group Poppy Family, has died at the age of 73.

She died in a British Columbia hospital while awaiting a kidney transplant. She has kidney disease. “I am saddened by the death of Susan Jakes,” Jakes’ bandmate and ex-husband Terry Jakes wrote on Facebook. “She has a good heart and can sing my songs beautifully. I know she will live beyond the clouds.”

Jakes had previously received a kidney transplant from her brother Rick Pesklevits in 2010, but complications from an infection led to her death on April 25.

“She was overwhelmed with infection and her heart stopped,” Pesklevitz told CBC, recalling his sister as someone who was “always singing.”

Born in a family of eight in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Jakes moved with his family to Harney, British Columbia when he was 9 years old. At the age of 15, she began appearing regularly on Canadian national television show Music Hop.

In 1966, at the age of 18, she asked Terry Jacks to accompany her on guitar for some performances; Craig McCaw later joined on lead guitar. The trio initially performed under the names Eternal Triangle and Powerline before opting for Poppy Family. Susan and Terry Jacks married in 1967, and McCaw soon introduced drummer Satwant Singh to the band.

Their first album, released in 1966, spawned two hit songs. “Which Way Are You Going, Billy?” reached #1 in Canada and #2 on the US Billboard Hot 100. “This Is Where I’m Wrong” was another top 10 hit in her home country while also hitting the top 50 in the US.

After McCaw and Singh left in 1970, their next and final album under the title Poppy Family featured only Susan and Terry Jacks. Released in 1971, Poppy Seeds contained several hits, including “Where Evil Grows”, “Good Friends?” and “It’s Bad to Cry”.

Susan Jacks continued her solo career and released her debut album, “I Thought of You Again,” in 1973. The title song earned her a Juno Award nomination for Canadian Female Vocalist of the Year. It also included the single You Don’t Know What Love Is, a song about her falling out with her husband who was producing the album. The couple divorced that same year. (Terry Jacks had his No. 1 solo single, “Seasons in the Sun,” in 1974.)

“The funny thing about ‘You don’t know what love is,’ was that Terry and I had a fight,” Susan Jakes recalled to Goldmine in 2020. “He has a short attention span, so I had to cut my words into short sentences so he didn’t lose interest, so I said, ‘You don’t know what love is, and I can’t understand it,'” he said. Said nothing, came back after a while and said he wrote the song in the same words I just said. Well, at least we made a song out of it.

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