The name Jamiroquai is a conglomeration of the word "jam" and the name of the Native American peoples, the Iroquois, indigenous to central and eastern United States and Canada. The Iroquois Confederacy or Iroquois League - consisting of the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca Indians - was the most powerful and advanced American Indian nation from the early seventeenth century until the American Revolution (in which most tribes joined the British and were massacred during the war). There are still some Mohawk and Cayuga living on reservations in Ontario, most Oneida are in Wisconsin. Most Iroquois now live in New York. The Iroquois population in the US and Canada is today around 29,000.
In the liner notes to Emergency on Planet Earth, Jay Kay writes that the name Jamiroquai is put forth to the Iroquois and other Native American peoples "with the utmost respect to all of you because I know you are right." The value placed on natural law and the earth in this message from Jay would seem to grow out of his admiration of the cultures of the Iroquois and other Native American peoples. On the track "Manifest Destiny," from the band's second album, The Return of the Space Cowboy, Jay reflects upon the more than four centuries of violent, rapacious subjugation of the Native American peoples, expressing a profound sadness and attempting to come to terms with "the shame of my ancestry."
The so-called "buffalo man" logo, which Jay sketched one day of himself in silhouette, toes turned out beneath flares/bellbottoms and trademark buffalo hat set at an endearing angle, has appeared on almost all tracks somewhere on either its packaging or actual disc.
Jamiroquai consists of a number of "core" bandmembers and then a number of other session musicians who perform/play live with the band. The current core members of Jamiroquai are:
Former members have included drummer Nick Van Gelder, who appeared on the first album, and bassist Stuart Zender, who appeared on the first three albums. Adrian Revell also used to play flute and saxophone for the band. Winston Rollins also spent some time as the trumpet player. In addition, bassist Andrew Levy and guitarist Simon Bartholomew (of the Brand New Heavies) appeared on the band's first single. Simon Katz (guitar), left the band in 2000 and was replaced by Rob Harris, who co-wrote a number of tracks on the A Funk Odyssey album.
Founder member of Jamiroquai Toby Smith left the band in May 2002 in order to spend more time with his family.
With the release of A Funk Odyssey, a number of changes to the band-setup were made, these include the dropping of Wallis Buchanan (didge), Darren Galea a.k.a DJ D-Zire (turntables) and the wind instrument section.
Simon Carter played keyboards with Jamiroquai during the Synkronized and A Funk Odyssey tours.
Nick Fyffe, who in 1998 joined as bassist following the departure of Stuart Zender, left Jamiroquai during Summer 2003.
After Nick Fyffe left Jamiroquai in 2003, Jamiroquai did not immediately hire a permanent bass guitarist. During the recording of Dynamite, a number of different bassists were used, and during early promotional gigs in 2005, Randy Hope-Taylor and Richard Murphy played for Jamiroquai. Paul Turner joined the band in March 2005.
Backing singer-wise, during the A Funk Odyssey era, Valerie Etienne, Hazel Fernandez and Lorraine McIntosh performed on backing vocals (with a little help from Beverley Knight). For the release and touring for Dynamite, Valerie moved on (and has been spotted working with Kylie Minogue), and was replaced by Samantha (Sam) Smith. At the end of 2006 Samantha moved onto other musical project and the backing singer line-up returned to Valerie, Hazel and Lorraine.
Last updated 07 May 2007.
In an interview for BBC Radio 1 in June 1997, Jay presented the history of the band as follows:
"Well I started with a keyoard player, then I did a tune called "When You Gonna Learn?", and got that on demo - took it along to Kiss FM and got the demo played, and then went along to Acid Jazz. Acid Jazz gave me a deal, after that, I was given a publishing deal on the strength of the one tune that Acid Jazz had - and after that, Sony reared its ugly head and offered me an eight album deal."
Although this isn't a complete history of all of the bandmembers, there is some information on what they used to get up to.
Jason Kay was born in Stretford, near Manchester. In his teens, he and his mother (Karen Kay, a famous jazz singer) moved to Ealing, West London. After a bust up with his mother, Jason found himself homeless. At this time, he was heavily influenced by hip hop, graffiti, breaking, and the street culture that goes with it. Jason then found himself working in all kinds of jobs, ranging from telemarketing to selling kilts!
As for music, Jason auditioned for the lead singer position of The Brand New Heavies, but was unsuccessful. Following this, Jay set up his own band consisting of Stuart Zender, Toby Smith, Nick Van Gelder (the band's original drummer), and Wallis Buchanan.
Toby Smith's musical talent stemmed from when he played bass (not keyboards!) in a band at school. He also had encouragement from his family as his father was a member of a three-piece jazz band. Toby's interest then moved towards house music whilst in school, and as for playing with Jamiroquai, he has been a part of the band since its inception in '92.
Derrick McKenzie was born in Islington, North London in 1964. As his mother would not buy him a drum kit, he learnt to play at home using chairs and telephone books! Derrick joined the band for the second album - The Return Of The Space Cowboy. Already being a fan of the Emergency On Planet Earth album, a friend set him up to audition as drummer when Nick Van Gelder left. Six and a half hours after his second audition in January 1994, he got the part and the rest is history...
Sola Akingbola joined the band in early 1995 after the previous band percussionist left. Sola had just finished touring with Ronnie Jordan and was between tours. Derrick had heard about Sola, contacted him and then went around to his house to talk and listen to some records. After a couple of hours, Derrick was convinced and went back to tell the band that they should bring Sola on board. Sola didn't have an audition and joined the band almost immediately, and the rest is history.
Nick Fyffe joined the band in 1998 as the replacement for Stuart Zender prior to the release of Synkronized in 1999. The Official Jamiroquai web site wrote "In 1998 Nick answered an ad in the Melody Maker to be in a Jamiroquai tribute band and, while awaiting a response, read that Stuart Zender had left the actual band. He made some enquiries and, soon after, found himself auditioning for the real deal. Ironically, the day Jay offered him the job, the tribute band guy called and offered him an audition! The guy was speechless when Nick explained he was now the real Jamiroquai's new bass player." Nick left Jamiroquai in 2003, and was replaced in 2005 by Paul Turner.
Rob Harris joined Jamiroquai as guitarist in April 2000 after two auditions. After many late nights learning and rehearsing their tunes prior to his auditions, Jay asked Rob to join the band and has instantly become a core member having co-writing credits for a number of tracks on the A Funk Odyssey album.
Last updated 16 May 2005.
Stuart Zender was brought up in Philadelphia and Jamiroquai was his first big musical project. After leaving school at the age of 16, Stuart (and his sister) joined the Archaos circus - a French troupe with no animals who perform acts such as juggling chain saws. Stuart however wasn't part of the outrageous acts - he was a lightman. Through the ex-drummer of Archaos, Stuart met Jason Kay and joined up with Jamiroquai at the start of '93. Stuart left Jamiroquai in late 1998 citing monetry splits being part of the reasoning for leaving.
Wallis Buchanan was with the band pretty much from the beginning. Prior to that, Wallis and Jay used to hang out and skateboard together around Boston Manor (near Ealing, West London). Around 1992, he heard that Jay was doing a track called "When You Gonna Learn?" Jay asked Wallis if he would play didgeridoo on the intro. He played on the intro and because it worked so well, he also played in the middle of the tune. After that, Wallis was hooked up with the band and was with them until the release of A Funk Odyssey in 2001.
Last updated 05 March 2002.
They hail from Ealing - West London - around 10 miles from the center of the city. The band now live in and around London, with Jay living in a 1.5 million pound manor house that he bought before the release of Synkronized.
Unfortunately Wallis Buchanan is no longer part of Jamiroquai. No reasons have been made public about why he is no longer part of the band. He is currently working on his own musical projects.
Yes, underneath those crazy hats, Jay does have straight brown hair. And, no, he doesn't always wear a hat. Jay appeared hatless, for the first time in the press, on the cover of The Face magazine in November '94. In recent years he's also shown up hatless more consistently. A number of Jamiroquai music videos show Jay without a hat, including "Half The Man" and "King For A Day."
Moving to the other extreme, in 1996 Jay appeared once on British Television's The Girlie Show wearing nothing but boxer shorts and a hat! After much persuasion, the hat was removed -- but nothing else.
Ever since the money started rolling in, Jay Kay has been parting with some of his cash on expensive cars-- such as Ferrari, Lamborghini, BMW, Mercedes, Aston Martin. Toby also is the proud owner of a Lamborghini.
This love of motors was expressed in it greatest form with the release of the album Travelling Without Moving, where the cover featured an adaptation of the "Buffalo Man" logo and the Ferrari crest. At the beginning of the title track to the album, you can hear Jay Kay shifting through the gears of his purple Lamborghini Diablo SE 30. Three of Jay Kay's own cars are featured in the video for "Cosmic Girl."
During 1996, Jay and Toby presented a motoring show on MTV Europe called "Wheels." In 1997 Jamiroquai composed and performed the theme tune for the British Formula One Grand Prix television coverage. This track was never released as a single.
Jay's love of cars has not always been so enjoyable. Back in May 1998 he was caught driving at 111mph and was banned from driving for 42 days. He's run into a bit of bad publicity over his driving speeds -- one example being in January 2002 when UK road safety campaigners publicly spoke out again Jay's comments in a magazine interview after he said that he once drove at 175mph on a public road (the UK speed limit is 70mph). He said in an interview, "I should count myself lucky. I've clocked up 175mph on a public road. If I'd been caught doing that, it would have been a prison sentence."
In September 2004 Jay was banned from driving once again for six months. He appeared in court in Scotland to face charges for speeding after being clocked at 169 kph in a four-wheel drive vehicle in Perthshire, Scotland, on 26 February 2004. The speed limit for the road was 113 kph (70 mph). According to Yahoo! news, 'Kay left court in a blacked out Audi driven by a minder after describing his court appearance to reporters as "thrilling".'
Here is a list of Jay's cars that I hope is relatively up-to-date (early 2007):
In 2006 Jay bought himself an exclusive Knaus C Liner motorhome.
In addition to cars, Jay is also a motorbike fan and he owns a Harley Davidson and also Vespa Vingage GTV 250 and Vespa GT60 scooters.
Last updated 30 May 2007.
After Jamiroquai split from their old management company (Long Lost Brother) in early 2000, they have been managing themselves. There are no direct contact details available for the band, especially since early 2007 when they ended their deal with Sony BMG/Columbia.
However, if you do your research you should have little difficulty in finding Jay's address to write to. If you cannot find it then you're not looking hard enough. Hint: he's got a recording studio at home.
Last updated 17 February 2008.