PUBLISHER’S NOTE – Lifelong musician John Coughlin, also known as Preacher Jack, recently died in a long-term care home in Massachusetts, of Covid-19. Our staff writer at the time, Ian Abreu, who is currently a City Councilor in New Bedford, MA, interviewed Preacher Jack for a story in our spring issue of Limelight Magazine 12 years ago. Since this story originally only appeared in print, we are sharing it today in his memory. RIP Preacher Jack
By IAN ABREU
At the ripe-old age of 66, “Preacher” Jack Lincoln Coughlin still possesses the same passion for the up-tempo, boogie-woogie style of music he felt as a 13-year-old back in 1955 when his mother bought him his first piano.
“I’ll never forget this, when I was 13, I was watching Liberace on television and my mother had just given me this piano,” said Coughlin. “Well I start to see him do this boogie-woogie style of music and it just captivated me. I knew this was something I had to do.”
Boogie-woogie is a style of piano-based blues which became very popular in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s and its elements can be heard in big band, country/western, and even gospel music.
“I want to mix all races and ages when I play,” said Coughlin. “In the past, I’ve played for gangsters and cops at the same time. That’s my mission, to bring quality music to every and anyone. I’d like to maybe give people a taste of church without having to go to church.”
Long-time friend and manager Peter Levine believes that “Preacher” Jack’s sheer love for music is what truly ignites his soul.
“His appeal after all these years is his love of the music – which pours out of every pore on his body each and every time he plays out,” he said. “He loves the music, it’s his life, not a fad. He makes you feel good when he plays, which in all honesty isn’t what you necessarily get these days.”
Some of Jack’s main musical influences include: Hank Williams Sr., Liberace, Mahalia Jackson and Jerry Lee Lewis.
With the help of people such as Levine and Boston native and Extreme lead singer Gary Cherone, “Preacher” Jack has just released a new LP on Bill Hunt’s Cow Island Music label called Pictures From Life’s Other Side, which features 18 tracks of both original and covered material.
“First of all, I want to state how much I appreciate what Peter (Levine) has done, he’s essentially brought my career back, has found me work, and believes in me,” said Coughlin, who now resides in Salem, Ma. “This latest record wouldn’t have happened if it also weren’t for Gary Cherone, either, he gave me the studio time and paid for it out of his own pocket.”
With over 45 years of pounding the keyboard under his belt, “Preacher” Jack feels that his message of spreading the word about his love of boogie-woogie does not go unnoticed with the younger generation whenever he performs.
“One of my goals every time I play is to bring the best of what really is American music to the ‘new world’ of music fans,” he said. “I want people to notice that underneath my kisser, I’m just a pure lover of gospel and boogie-woogie.”
If you’re interested in finding out more information about booking Jack for your private party, corporate function, club, or lounge, contact manager Peter Levine by phone at 617-930-1121 or by e-mail at Petel39@aol.com.
“Jack is one of the finest entertainers I have ever seen,” said Levine. “He was born to entertain and in the 18 years that I have been seeing Jack, he has never disappointed an audience.”
You can also visit “Preacher” Jack’s myspace page at www.myspace.com/thepreacherjack which feature an innumerable amount of both pictures and songs.