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Jay Kay

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Jay Kay
Kay performing with Jamiroquai at the 2018 Coachella Music Festival
Jason Luís Cheetham

(1969-12-30) 30 December 1969 (age 54)
Stretford, England
  • Singer
  • songwriter
Years active1986–present
SpouseMaria Kay
PartnerDenise van Outen (1998–2001)
Musical career
Member ofJamiroquai

Jason "Jay" Kay (born Jason Luís Cheetham; 30 December 1969)[1] is a British singer and songwriter. He co-founded the acid jazz and funk band Jamiroquai, formed in 1992, and serves as their lead vocalist.[2][3][4][5] As of 2017, the band sold more than 26 million copies worldwide.

Outside music, Kay has an interest in exotic cars, and made appearances in the shows Top Gear and Fifth Gear. He also contributed to environmental causes. Kay previously had a high-profile relationship with Denise van Outen.

Early life[edit]

Jay Kay was born Jason Luís Cheetham[6] in Stretford on 30 December 1969,[7] to English cabaret singer Karen Kay[8] and Portuguese guitarist Luís Saraiva.[9] His parents split up, and he did not meet his biological father until he was about 28. Kay's identical twin, David, died of brain damage a few weeks after the two were born.[10][11] Kay said in a 2010 interview that his mother raised him largely alone, which gave him "an itinerant childhood", half of which he spent "living in rural Suffolk and rural Devon".[12] He moved to Manchester with his mother and step-father Mervyn Kay as a youngster from Blackburn.[13][8] He often accompanied his mother at her performances,[14] and later attended Oakham School in Oakham.[15] At the age of 15, he was homeless and turned to small crimes to survive; he returned home after a false arrest and near-death experience, working as a break-dancer and soon pursuing a career in music.[7][16] It had been reported that he failed an audition to become a singer for the Brand New Heavies prior to forming his own band, though the Brand New Heavies denied the claim.[17]



Kay formed Jamiroquai in 1992. Band members included Toby Smith (keyboards), Nick Van Gelder (drums, 1992–1993), Derrick McKenzie (drums 1994–present) and Wallis Buchanan (didgeridoo).[16] After the success of Jamiroquai's first single, "When You Gonna Learn", Kay signed a US$1 million record deal with Sony Soho2.[18] The band's first album was Emergency on Planet Earth. The relationship with Sony ended in 2007.[19] The band has sold more than 26 million albums worldwide.[20] Kay is occasionally referred to as 'Jamiroquai' due to the misconception that the band is a solo artist.[21][22]

Kay is well known for his array of elaborate hats and headgear.[23] Professional appearances for concerts, interviews and the like have prompted descriptions of Kay as "the mad hatter" for his love of headgear.[24] In 2005, it was announced that Kay, often referred to as "the cat in the hat", was launching a range of distinctive clothing, including his trademark hats, on his new "Quai" label.[25] The Indian Country Media Network criticised him for wearing headdresses originating from Native American populations, including the feathered war bonnet (as seen in the music video and CD single artwork for "Corner of the Earth" as well as on the album artwork for 2010's Rock Dust Light Star).[26]

On 9 October 2017, Kay received the BMI President's Award at the BMI London Awards.[27] That same year, he seriously injured his spine.[28] Requiring surgery, it led to Jamiroquai cancelling two shows in Tokyo for their Automaton Tour, which were rescheduled later that year.[29]

TV appearances[edit]

Kay appeared in an episode of the BBC series The Naked Chef with chef Jamie Oliver, and he performed on the series Strictly Come Dancing singing "Canned Heat". He has made many other TV guest appearances as either a singer, interviewee, or both, including on The Word, The Girlie Show, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Friday Night with Jonathan Ross, Rove, and many others.[30][31]

Kay has appeared on four episodes of the BBC car show Top Gear. In series 1, episode 2, he set a lap time of 1:48.1 for the show's "Star in a Reasonably Priced Car" using the Suzuki Liana, holding the fastest lap time for all of the first series and most of the second series.[32] In series 3, episode 4, Kay drove his Lamborghini Miura with Richard Hammond as a passenger. His third appearance was in series 11, episode 6, where his lap time of 1:45.81 using the Chevrolet Lacetti beat the top time held by Simon Cowell by one-tenth of a second;[32] this car's record remained unbeaten throughout the entire series' run despite there being 58 drivers in total for the Chevrolet Lacetti, with AC/DC's Brian Johnson coming in second place for this car with 1:45.85. Kay won Top Gear's "John Sergeant Award" for the best dance after learning that his time on the Top Gear test track was the fastest lap time in 2008. On 24 May 2004, Kay appeared on Season 5, Episode 9 of Channel 5 series Fifth Gear. He gave the presenters a tour around his property whilst showing off his collection of cars.

Legal issues[edit]

In April 2001, Kay was charged with assaulting a photographer and damaging his camera outside the Attica nightclub in London's West End. Kay pleaded not guilty, and the charges were dropped due to lack of evidence.[33]

In May 2002, Kay was questioned by police after an altercation at a premiere party for Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones, outside the St Martin's Lane Hotel, where it was alleged a photographer kicked his £70,000 Bentley after Kay had attempted to grab him as his car drove off. Kay harangued the photographer and his girlfriend, causing the man to give him a severe headbutt. The pair were separated with blood streaming from Kay's nose. The fight almost resumed inside the hotel, and Kay was photographed in a distressed state. He sported a black eye at his next gig.[34] He was also reported to have got into a scuffle at an afterparty for the 2002 BRIT Awards.[35]

In March 2009, Kay's black Ferrari Enzo suffered nearly £10,000 worth of damage during an altercation with hotel chef Aaron Billington at the Brudenell Hotel in Aldeburgh.[36] Billington, who was drunk and motivated by romantic interest in a woman with whom Kay was interacting, lost his job and was jailed for 20 weeks.[37][38]


Kay in his Ferrari LaFerrari at Goodwood Festival of Speed in 2014.

By 2013, Kay owned hundreds of cars—mainly sports cars. The cover of Travelling Without Moving features an adaptation of the "Buffalo Man" logo and the Ferrari crest. Some press coverage has negatively contrasted his strong interest in exotic cars with themes of environmental concern in Jamiroquai's lyrics.[39][40] He responded in one interview, "[People] keep talking to me about cars and environment, and I reckon I do about 3,000 miles a year [...] I don't really drive that much at all any more, because I'm either on tour or doing stuff."[41] He has also quipped that he "can only drive one at a time".[42] In another interview, he talked about how he has made his home environmentally sustainable, including tending to his own garden without pesticides, caring for livestock, creating an eco-friendly waste-removal system at great cost, and maximising his recycling. Kay and the band also put aside a significant portion of their royalties to environmental causes.[43]

Three of Kay's cars appeared in the video for the song "Cosmic Girl". One of the cars was a total loss, and the replacement was involved in an incident that destroyed the windscreen. Kay was not involved in either incident. In 2011, he visited Maranello for an exclusive viewing of the new Ferrari 458 Spider.[44] Amongst his car collection, including what he calls "staff cars", he owned a one-off 1965 Ferrari 330 GT Vignale Shooting Brake.[45] He decided to auction this car in 2018, selling it for $313,000.[46]

The song "Black Devil Car" from the album Dynamite is a tribute to his black Ferrari Enzo. A die-cast 1:18 scale-model series of Kay's black Enzo from Hot Wheels was available for purchase, including a limited batch of cars with hand-signed windscreens.[47]

Kay competed in the Celebrity Challenge race at the 2012 Silverstone Classic, finishing third behind AC/DC vocalist Brian Johnson and actor Kelvin Fletcher.[48]

At the 2014 Goodwood Festival of Speed, Kay showcased his signal green LaFerrari, the only one of its colour in the world.[49] He sold the car in 2019.[50]

Personal life[edit]

From 1998 until 2001 Kay was in a relationship with Denise van Outen.[51][52]

Kay is married to Maria Kay, and they have two daughters, Carla and Tallulah.[53] The track "Carla" from the Automaton album is a tribute to his first daughter.[54] There is also a track called "Talullah" from Jamiroquai's 2005 album Dynamite, although the spelling on the album is different to his daughter's name.[55]

Kay stated in 2010 that he had a "substantial" cocaine habit before quitting his drug use in 2003, said to have been triggered over his break-up with Denise van Outen.[56][57]

Kay formerly lived in the Ealing area of London,[58][59] where he played some of his first gigs.[60] He now lives in Horsenden, where he has a private studio.[citation needed]

When asked in a 1996 interview about having conventional religious beliefs, Kay responded, "I follow the religion of the trees and the greenery. I follow the religion of the moon. I believe in what people leave behind in the sense of trails and spirits, the energy which they project. I believe in vibrations, which is what the whole world runs on."[61]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Jason KAY". Companies House. Retrieved 24 July 2023.
  2. ^ Coker, Cheo Hodari (10 May 1997). "An Englishman with Soul--and Stateside Album Goals". Los Angeles Times.
  3. ^ "Jamiroquai". 21 November 1997.
  4. ^ McLean, Craig (19 October 2010). "Jay Kay interview".
  5. ^ "Interview: Jay Kay - in at the deep end". The Independent. 21 May 1999.
  6. ^ Schmidt, Veronica (3 March 2009). "Jamiroquai frontman Jay Kay's Ferrari Enzo smashed up". The Times. UK. Retrieved 31 May 2011.
  7. ^ a b Larkin, Colin (27 May 2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music. Omnibus Press. p. 1985. ISBN 9780857125958.
  8. ^ a b "Star's secret past". This Is Lancashire. Archived from the original on 20 September 2012. Retrieved 6 December 2010.
  9. ^ Hart, Jeremy (7 September 2003). "Me & my motors: Jay Kay". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 10 December 2010.
  10. ^ "This much I know". The Guardian. 30 October 2005. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 6 July 2023.
  11. ^ "Interview: Jamiroquai singer/songwriter Jason Kay". The Scotsman. 2 February 2014. Archived from the original on 2 February 2014. Retrieved 6 July 2023.
  12. ^ "Jay Kay interview". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 27 June 2013.
  13. ^ "Star's secret past". Lancashire Telegraph. 10 March 1997. Retrieved 6 July 2023.
  14. ^ Moon, Tom (29 May 1997). "Jamiroquai's Sunny Song has a Serious Message: The Group Warns of a High-Tech 'Virtual Insanity.'". Philadelphia Inquirer. Archived from the original on 2 April 2021. Retrieved 23 February 2021 – via ProQuest.
  15. ^ "The 'fact' merry-go-round undermining Wikipedia". Channel 4 News. 18 January 2012. Archived from the original on 19 January 2013. Retrieved 8 July 2012.
  16. ^ a b "Jamiroquai | Biography & History | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 8 February 2018.
  17. ^ "The Brand New Heavies: The 5 Magazine Interview". 5 Magazine. 31 October 2012. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  18. ^ Thompson, Dave (2001). Funk. Hal Leonard Corporation. ISBN 9780879306298.
  19. ^ "Jay Kay quits music". Digital Spy. 28 February 2007.
  20. ^ "Toby Grafftey-Smith, co-founder of Jamiroquai – obituary". The Telegraph. 29 April 2017. Archived from the original on 25 September 2018. Retrieved 22 January 2018.
  21. ^ Jamiroquai's Back And He's Got A New Hat - Stereogum. 27 January 2017. Retrieved 31 January 2017.
  22. ^ Jamiroquai: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know - Heavy. 27 January 2017. Retrieved 27 January 2017.
  23. ^ "The evolution of Jamiroquai's hats". OnBlackheath. Archived from the original on 16 January 2020. Retrieved 16 January 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  24. ^ "Mad hatter". The Sydney Morning Herald. 25 November 2005.
  25. ^ Ozler, Levent (3 July 2005). "Jamiroquai to Launch Fashion Line". Dexigner. Retrieved 17 November 2011.
  26. ^ "13 Rock Stars Who've Worn Native Headdresses (and Probably Shouldn't Have)". Indian Country Media Network. 9 June 2012. Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  27. ^ Jamiroquai's Jay Kay lets slip he's married long-term partner. SNV Channel. 10 October 2017. Retrieved 2 July 2019.
  28. ^ Weingarten, Christopher R. (30 July 2018). "Jamiroquai Talk Coachella Comeback and What Became of the 'Virtual Insanity' Hat". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 25 November 2018.
  29. ^ "Jamiroquai Announces New Tokyo Concert Date in September". Billboard. Retrieved 7 April 2018.
  30. ^ "Jay Kay". IMDb. Retrieved 23 September 2021.
  31. ^ Jay Kay - On Rove (2002), retrieved 23 September 2021
  32. ^ a b "Lap Times | Top Gear". www.topgear.com. Archived from the original on 10 February 2018. Retrieved 8 February 2018.
  33. ^ "Jay Kay assault charges dropped". The Standard. 20 November 2001. Retrieved 18 March 2009.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  34. ^ Charles Miranda (14 May 2002). "Jay Kay in premiere party brawl". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  35. ^ NME (15 May 2002). "FUNK STAR WARS!". NME. Retrieved 6 July 2023.
  36. ^ "Angry Chef Trashes Rock Star's Ferrari Enzo, Archive.org". 12 February 2019. Archived from the original on 13 May 2011.
  37. ^ "Pastry chef jailed for smashing Jamiroquai singer's Ferrari". Belfasttelegraph.
  38. ^ "England | Suffolk | Jay Kay car attack chef is jailed". BBC News. 16 April 2009. Retrieved 27 November 2021.
  39. ^ Larkin, Colin (27 May 2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music. Omnibus Press. ISBN 9780857125958.
  40. ^ "Stoned Groove: Jamiroquai's Jay Kay". PAPERMAG. 1 November 1997. Archived from the original on 18 January 2018. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  41. ^ Bailey, Fiona (2011). "Jay Kay talks cars and Cole". BBC News. Retrieved 8 February 2018.
  42. ^ Jamiroquai - Interview 1993 RARE, retrieved 16 November 2023
  43. ^ "Jamiroquai". ABC listen. 5 October 2023. Retrieved 6 October 2023.
  44. ^ "Jay Kay Checks Out Ferrari 458 Spider". 13 September 2011.
  45. ^ Top Gear (series 11)
  46. ^ "Jay Kay's one-of-a-kind 1965 Ferrari 330 GT Shooting Brake up for Auction". WHEELS.ca. 5 September 2018. Retrieved 23 September 2021.
  47. ^ "Black Ferrari Enzo, SIGNED Jay Kay (Jamiroquai), Hot Wheels 1:18, boxed, VGC | #277243819". Worthpoint. Retrieved 23 September 2021.
  49. ^ "Goodwood Festival of Speed 2014: Jay Kay's £1m Ferrari". 28 June 2014. Archived from the original on 12 January 2022.
  50. ^ "Jay Kay's Green LaFerrari Is For Sale". 30 April 2019.
  51. ^ "Jay Kay: 'I will marry Denise'". BBC News. 19 November 1999. Retrieved 17 November 2011.
  52. ^ "Cocaine To Blame For Jay Kay Split". Contactmusic.com. 25 March 2003. Archived from the original on 18 June 2018. Retrieved 9 February 2018.
  53. ^ "Jay Kay facts: Jamiroquai singer's age, wife, children, cars and net worth revealed". Smooth. Retrieved 23 September 2021.
  54. ^ "Jay Kay has been busy being a dad on hiatus". celebretainment.com/. 3 April 2017. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  55. ^ "Jamiroquai - Dynamite". Discogs. Retrieved 23 September 2021.
  56. ^ Craig McLean (19 October 2010). "Jay Kay Interview". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 23 October 2010.
  57. ^ "Interview: Jay Kay - Jay Kay comes down from space; The funkster's quit cocaine and is feeling his 32 years. By GAVIN MARTIN. - Free Online Library". www.thefreelibrary.com. Retrieved 13 November 2023.
  58. ^ "Return Of The Ealing Cowboy". New Musical Express. 18 April 2002. Retrieved 19 May 2017.
  59. ^ "An A-Z Of Ealing Rock". The Ealing Club. Retrieved 19 May 2017.[permanent dead link]
  60. ^ Jamiroquai - Carling Homecoming, Broadway Boulevard, London (Ealing), UK. Channel 4. 15 May 2002. Retrieved 19 May 2017.
  61. ^ Poulton, Sonia (1996). Getting personal with JAMIROQUAI's Jay Kay. Muzik. p. 109.

External links[edit]