After the post-punk band Swell Maps dissolved in the early '80s, lead singer Nikki Sudden began a diverse and maddening solo career, during which he performed with a number of different bands and side projects. Sudden released his first solo record, Waiting on Egypt, in 1982, followed closely by The Bible Belt in 1983; both records recalled Swell Maps. Mike Scott and Anthony Thistlewaite of The Waterboys both played on the album, Scott writing the track Road of Broken Dreams - later covered by Sudden in the Jacobites.
In 1984, Sudden formed the Jacobites with drummer Epic Soundtracks (his brother, who was also a member of Swell Maps) and guitarist/vocalist Dave Kusworth, who co-wrote the material with Sudden. The band developed a laid-back pop style, driven by acoustic guitars and a rolling rhythm section reminiscent of the Velvet Underground. The Jacobites released four albums and three EPs between 1984 and 1986, when Kusworth left the band. Sudden continued with the Jacobites name, releasing Texas on the Creation label in 1986.
During the late '80s, Sudden ditched the Jacobites and began making music that strongly recalled early Rolling Stones. While none of his albums ever attracted a large audience, Sudden remained a cult favorite throughout his career. High-profile guests began appearing on his albums with Wilco's Jeff Tweedy lending a hand to 1999's Red Brocade and the Faces' keyboardist Ian McLagan playing on the 2004 release Treasure Island, whilst members of REM appeared and produced Sudden's The Jewel Thief. On March 26, 2006, Sudden passed away after a gig in New York City. He had just finished a new album, The Truth Doesn't Matter, which was released in October of that year.