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Jason "Jay" Kay's UK funk band Jamiroquai (named after the Iroquois tribe whose pantheism inspired him) made a rapid impact - they were signed to Sony Records for an eight-album contract on the strength of just one single for Acid Jazz Records - "When You Gonna Learn?". Kay (Born 30 December 1969, Stretford, Manchester, England) was brought up in Ealing by his jazz-singer mother, Karen Kay. Inspired by Sly Stone, Gil Scott-Heron and Roy Ayers, he integrated those influences into a 90s pop format that also combined "new age" mysticism and the growing urban funk movement, which took its name from the Acid Jazz label. However, as a former breakdancer, he had already recorded in a hip-hop style, releasing a single with a sampler and drum machine for Morgan Khan's Streetsounds label in 1986. His first major label single, "Too Young To Die", immediately broke into the UK Top 10 in 1993, while the debut album entered the chart at number 1.

A press backlash soon followed, not helped by Kay's na‹ve statements about the environment after he had blown his advance on petrol-guzzling cars. Despite the healthy sales, his case was not helped by the less than spectacular Emergency On Planet Earth, which came with an order form for his own brand clothing (seven per cent of profits going to Greenpeace), although there were strong compositions such as "If I Like It, I Do It". The second album was a considerable improvement, with the previous emphasis on his media relations now switched to his music. Backed by a regular band now comprising Stuart Zender (Born 18 March 1974; bass), Toby Smith (Born 29 October 1970, London, England; keyboards), Wallis Buchanan (Born 29 November 1965, London, England; didgeridoo, vibes), and Derrick McKenzie (Born 27 March 1962, London, England; drums), songs such as "Kids", "Return" and "Morning Glory" gave Kay's obvious vocal talents better service, adding ghetto hip-hop rhythms to the previous acid jazz and funk backdrops.

Jamiroquai's third album Travelling Without Moving confirmed the band as a highly commercial act, selling over seven million copies worldwide, and winning four trophies at the 1997 MTV Awards. Following a string of hit singles including "Virtual Insanity", "Cosmic Girl" and "Alright", the band achieved their first UK chart-topper when "Deeper Underground", taken from the soundtrack of the movie Godzilla, topped the charts in August 1998. Kay's long-serving bass player Zender left during the recording of the following year's Synkronized. At the end of the year it was confirmed that, after the Spice Girls and Oasis, Jamiroquai were the biggest-selling UK artists of the decade. Kay's troubled high-profile relationship with television presenter Denise Van Outen informed his first album of the new millennium, A Funk Odyssey.


Emergency On Planet Earth (Sony 1993)***, The Return Of The Space Cowboy (Sony 1994)****, Travelling Without Moving (Sony 1996)****, Synkronized (Sony 1999)****, A Funk Odyssey (Sony 2001)***.


LateNightTales (Azuli 2003)***.


Live In Verona (Sony Music Vision 2002).

Music Albums

Emergency On Planet Earth

The Return Of The Space Cowboy

Travelling Without Moving
Work Group

Work Group

A Funk Odyssey

A Funk Odyssey *
404 Music Group

Source: Encyclopedia of Popular Music
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