JACK JONES is a singer and actor who was once dubbed by Frank Sinatra as his heir apparent.
He was born in Hollywood in 1938 and was a talented athlete before he decided to embark on a showbusiness career.
Having worked with some of the greatest songwriters of all time ? including Cole Porter and the Gershwins ? it comes as no surprise to learn that he has won two Grammy awards during his 50-year career. He has his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and, when not recording, enjoys appearing in musicals and has performed in both the acclaimed Guys and Dolls and South Pacific.
More recently, he has appeared beside British comedian Steve Coogan in the TV special Cruise Of The Gods.
Jack will be appearing at The Sage Gateshead on Tuesday, May 6. Tickets, costing ￡7 to ￡29.50, can be bought by calling 0191-443 4661number ok or visiting www.thesagegateshead.org.
YOU toured Vietnam providing entertainment for troops in the 1970s. What do you remember?
I was part of a troupe led by Bob Hope. I was thrilled and honoured to get the call. I was only out there for two weeks but it opened my eyes. There were guys in the hospital who had both legs blown off and Bob would walk in and crack a one-liner, such as “don’t get up fellas”. He could get away with that, but I decided to help them get some messages home. I had a tape recorder with me and told some of the men to give me their name and address and I let them say a few words to their loved ones.
YOU were backstage at the Ed Sullivan show when The Beatles first performed in America. What was it like?
It was full of noise. It was a time when all the girls in the audience were becoming women and their hormones were raging. I don’t think they knew whether, musically, The Beatles were any good . . . they just went wild because they were sexy. Back then, they had what was considered long hair and that was a great gimmick. I walked out there and they were screaming at me just because I was close to The Beatles.
WHAT do you think of modern music?
For a long time, rock and roll has become stuck in a rut. Creatively, bands just don’t know where to go with it anymore. I have started to get a younger audience come to my shows because they want to see something a little bit different. In recent years, you have had some groups which have started to do swing albums and wear a suit and tie. They are singing the same stuff I started out with. What I don’t like is rap. I don’t think there is such a thing as rap music. There is rap and there is music but the two don’t go together.
WHAT do you think of the music industry?
There are two categories of music business. One is for the youngsters which, unfortunately, is dominant and is the one which record company bosses pay attention to. The other is for adults who love music, and I think that is becoming more prominent.
WHAT has been the highlight of your career?
The most surprising thing that happened to me was when I won my first Grammy. I hadn’t been in the music business that long, really, so it came as a bit of a shock to me.
HOW did you get into showbusiness?
My father was a singer and my mother was an actress for MGM. I was born into a world where a lot of people who came to the house were performers and, to me, it was natural. I thought everyone’s house was like that. I got my first recording contract at 19 but didn’t have a hit until I was 23.
DO you have any plans to retire?
I will one day. There will be a time when I say “that’s enough”. It will be obvious it’s the right time. There are other things I like doing.