Seasons In The Scam: ‘Artist’ Banked On One-Hit Wonder
He had joy, he had fun – and then he got carted off to the pokey after pretending he was Terry Jacks, the one-hit wonder whose No. 1 hit single “Seasons In the Sun” elevated the musician to brief fame in 1974.Twenty-two years later, Timothy Wayne McDonald – who had legally changed his name to “Terrence Jacques” – arrived in Colorado Springs. Over the course of several weeks that January in 1996, Jacques, who was also a musician, tricked local performers and songwriters and recording studio owners into believing he was Jacks.
Jacques seduced women and mooched off his “fans.” He crashed on their couches, ate their food and drank their booze – all the while telling them that he was broke because he was waiting for his royalty check to arrive.
He was featured in the daily Gazette, and in the Colorado Springs Independent, portrayed as a resurrected star on his way back to the big time. He appeared on KRDO-FM radio, and announced a new album, “Dreams in the Dust,” was going to be released as early as the next month. He was, he said, thinking about re-recording his old hit, “Seasons in the Sun,” 1995-style, a la Pink Floyd.
What? A la Pink Floyd? And wasn’t that English accent a bit, well, fake-sounding? And when is that royalty check finally going to show up?
Reached at his home in Canada, the “real” Terry Jacks immediately fingered Jacques as a guy who had been impersonating him for 20 years after the “Seasons in the Sun” hit single hit the top of the charts, leaving a trail of broken hearts and busted checkbooks in at least five western states.
The pretender had even been through Colorado Springs once before, in 1980, where police arrested him on outstanding California warrants for grand theft and worthless check charges.
The “real” Jacks had left his music career behind after “Seasons in the Sun,” to devote his life to ecology and the environment. But the bills racked up by his impersonator – $1,000 from a Holiday Inn in Pennsylvania; hospital charges from Yuma, Ariz., and Scottsdale, Ariz. – made their way to his doorstep.
“He’s been hurting so many people, it’s just gone on and on,” Jacks said at the time. “When people start getting suspicious, he’ll just move on to another town.
“He’s been making a living out of (being me) since 1978.”
The Jacques/Jacks scenario isn’t exactly what Rep. Jim Riesberg had in mind when he introduced a “Truth in Music” bill to crack down on fake music groups in the Colorado legislature this week. Rather, the Democrat from Greeley has focused more on big-name, old-time bands like the Drifters, the Platters and the Temptations. Legacy groups with those names routinely go on tour and perform the music of those old bands, but none of the musicians were actually part of the original band.
Riesberg’s bill, detailed on Sunday by Colorado Confidential, would require truth in advertising – that is, the bands will have to acknowledge that they are “tribute” bands and not the real thing, or face up to $5,000 in civil fines.
The bill would certainly also apply to musicians like Terrence Jacques – and other, more recent scam artists who have also put in appearances in Colorado.
As for Jacques, his 1996 Colorado Springs gig was cut short after a multi-agency task force arrested him that January . They nabbed him on an outstanding warrant for skipping parole in Phoenix, where he had recently been released after spending five years in prison for fraud.
At the time, the “real” Terry Jacks said he had considered filing criminal complaints against the guy who was pretending to be him, but back then, before the wide use of the Internet, it was much harder to track people.
And, after his 1996 arrest, Jacques was unrepentant. In a jailhouse interview with this reporter, he freely admitted to not being the real deal. And he made it clear why he had chosen the little-remembered Jacks to impersonate. After all, everybody remembers the song, “Seasons in the Sun” (“Goodbye Michelle, my little one…”), but most people don’t remember the artist who recorded it. It wasn’t like he was trying to pass as Mick Jagger.
“I needed an edge,” Jacques said. “I’m a talented musician, and I tried the normal routes and couldn’t get anywhere. So I fashioned this person and got noticed. I did what I had to do.
“I don’t give a damn what people think. Regardless of who I said I am, I’m damn good.”
But others weren’t so generous – including the owner of a local recording studio owner who watched as his own dreams, within a matter of only a few weeks, turned to dust.
“I was definitely excited,” said the recording studio owner. “I told everybody I had recorded a star. Now I probably just won’t mention it.”
Twelve years later, Jacques has not attempted a Colorado Springs encore – at least not as “Terry Jacks.”
Cara DeGette is a senior fellow at Colorado Confidential and a columnist and contributing editor at The Colorado Springs Independent. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org