Jackson's career began in the mid-'60s in Los Angeles and Orange County folk clubs. Except for a brief period in NYC in the late 1960s, he has always lived in Southern California. His debut album came out on David Geffen's Asylum Records in 1972. Since then, he has released 13 studio albums and three collections of live performances; his most recent, Love Is Strange features David Lindley.
Beyond his music Browne is known for his advocacy on behalf of the environment, human rights, and arts education. He's a co-founder of the groups Musicians United for Safe Energy (MUSE), Nukefree.org and the Success Through the Arts Foundation, which provides education opportunities for students in South Los Angeles.
In 2002, he was the fourth recipient of the John Steinbeck Award, given to artists whose works exemplify the environmental and social values that were essential to the great California-born author. He has received Duke University’s LEAF award for Lifetime Environmental Achievement in the Fine Arts and both the Chapin-World Hunger Year and NARM Harry Chapin Humanitarian Awards. In 2004, Jackson was given an honorary Doctorate of Music by Occidental College in Los Angeles, for "a remarkable musical career that has successfully combined an intensely personal artistry with a broader vision of social justice."