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Andrew L. Jackson, 1958-2012

“The Guitar Chameleon”


Although it has been three months since Andrew Jackson’s passing, he is still very much in the forefront of our thoughts and hearts. He continues to inspire us with his bravery and kind spirit. He moved gracefully through the illness that eventually took his body away, but not his presence.

Andrew maintained his great sense of humor even during his final days at Serenity House. He’d often have us in tears and laughter while tapping away on a Kleenex box, keeping rhythm with the fellow musicians and family members who were there to visit with him. He would joke with nurses and friends and was in good spirits despite his condition. When Andrew became unable to play his guitars, he graciously gifted his favorite instruments, one at a time, as another act of loving generosity in the face of adversity.

Andrew L. Jackson
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Courtesy Photo

Andrew L. Jackson

Born on a U.S. Air Force Base outside of Chicago, Illinois, to Addie and Jack Jackson, Andrew and his three siblings traveled the world as dependents of their dad and the U.S. Air Force, until Jack Jackson retired in Santa Barbara in 1970. Andrew was a 1977 graduate of San Marcos High School, where he lettered in football. A self-taught musician, he began playing guitar at the age of 14.

Andrew was a 1979 graduate of Santa Barbara City College, in premed/physical therapy, continuing his education at San Diego State, where he earned a degree in physical therapy/sports medicine in 1983. Andrew then returned to Santa Barbara and became a professional forensic rehabilitation consultant/life care planner for Coast Rehabilitation Services, where he was a key employee and worked faithfully for many years.

The passionate and graceful way Andrew played, spinning webs of sound from his guitar strings, brought joy to others, and that fueled his creativity in return. Andrew left behind a voluminous legacy of beautiful recordings of original guitar pieces, as well as music recorded with his band Duende. Andrew’s diverse musical taste and his ability to play and create music in nearly any style earned him the widely known moniker “The Guitar Chameleon.”

He was very generous with his music, often playing just for fun at two favorite hangouts around town, The Daily Grind and Hendry’s Beach. And, of course, he was often a featured performer at nightclubs around town, opening for national touring acts at SOhO. A natural music promoter, Andrew was always pursuing friendships with local musicians, including many who he sensed needed more exposure. Recognizing their talent, he enjoyed offering a part in local shows he would organize. This repeated ritual grew into a continuing series of Santa Barbara shows known as Circle of Friends. Sometimes Andrew would even contribute his own funds to make these shows happen so that his friends could have a chance to share their music in a stage setting with appreciative audiences.

Andrew so enjoyed the repeated offers he would receive to perform for events held at places such as the Old Mission, the Botanic Garden, Firestone brewery, Stow House, and many more. I think all we fellow musicians looked up to him proudly for his ability to command deserving compensation for his performances. This is not easy to do in Santa Barbara.

There were other pastimes Andrew truly loved when his guitar was not calling. Andrew loved mountain biking or just the wind of an open road. And he loved going down to Mesa Lane to go surf fishing. On many a warm weekend morning, he would trek down the 200-plus stairs and head to the left, past the point, to his favorite beach, loaded with backpack, rods, bait bag, and a bucket. He spent many patient hours there, at times accompanied by Lauren, his young daughter, playing by his side. It was his request to call this special shoreline his final resting place. In a beautiful sunset cruise, a gathering of family and friends set his ashes to sea.

Preceded in death by his parents — Addie died in 2003 and Jack in 2008 — Andrew is survived by his daughter, Lauren Jackson, the light of his life; his brothers, Robert and Chuck Jackson; his sister, Kathy (Meritta) Jackson Hinds; nephews, Joshua Jackson, Kyle Jackson, Alexander Hinds; and niece, Alicia Hinds. Also, numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins live in North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, Georgia, and West Virginia.

In addition to his family, Andrew loved his friends, and he loved meeting new people. Andrew not only transformed himself into the essence of love; he touched and transformed everyone around him as his lasting gift to us all.

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