February 22, 2009 – by Leslie Gray Streeter for Palm Beach Post

A reviewer once lamented that Jack Jones might most be remembered for the theme of a lovingly cheesy television comedy about romantic shenanigans on a cruise ship.
“He said ‘It’s too bad people think all he’s good for is singing that song,”” Jones remembers. “And that tells you something right there.
“The song, of course, was the theme from ABC’s The Love Boat, but Jones happily knows that people understand his talents extend far beyond the soundtrack of the Lido Deck. The 71-year-old crooner, who returns this week to Palm Beach’s Royal Room at the Colony Hotel, has had lots of hits – Lollipops and Roses, Call Me Irresponsible, Love with the Proper Stranger, The Impossible Dream and others.
Having celebrated his 50th anniversary in show business last year, the singer, who could count Frank Sinatra, Mel Torme and Tony Bennett as fans, takes his Love Boat fame in stride.

Q: So you celebrated your 50th anniversary in show business last year. What was that like?

The brain is something. It doesn’t want to look at it as having gone by that fast!

Q: I Understand that you saw Frank Sinatra sing at your high school in Los Angeles, because his daughter Nancy went there,too.

She was a year behind me. She was this little skinny kid carrying her books. We used to talk in the patio at lunchtime. … They kept it kind of quiet – we were just summoned to an assembly, and he was there. I had already started to examine his renaissance. He had already come back from that dark place he had gone to, and he was a teacher of breathing and phrasing. I realized how great he was, and suddenly he was playing at my school! It was like being in heaven.

Q: Your father, Allen Jones, was famous, as well.

He wasn’t famous like Frank. You know, he was big in the late ’30s and very well known for Donkey Serenade, and for being in Show Boat. But by the time I got to high school, no one knew who he was, like my daughter’s friends with me. I have an 18-year-old daughter, and those kids only know me because I’m visible here in town. Otherwise it wouldn’t mean that much to them. We had her 18th birthday party at the house. When the kids were leaving, they spotted my Grammy and went nuts.

Q: Do they know that you’re actually famous?

I don’t make that big of a deal about it. They know I’m on the road. We have our own niche that has nothing whatsoever to do with what’s on the radio. I do like some of it, like John Mayer – I’m gonna put his song Daughters in my show. And then Jason Mraz, who is just extremely gifted. There are a few in any generation that are prolific.

Q: Did you always know you wanted to be a singer?

There was never a question. I was one of the lucky ones. My daughter’s sung with me several times, but she’s not passionate about it. Now with music the way it is, it’s not as challenging as it used to be.

Q: In what way?

People are gonna say I’m a snob, but it’s not as challenging as it used to be from an aesthetic and intellectual point of view. Then somebody like John Mayer comes along and makes people think. Or … what’s that guy from Hootie and the Blowfish? Darius Rucker. Somebody pointed out to me a song he wrote about his daughter, that was absolutely profound. There is some stuff that is going on that is challenging, but there’s so much that the media pumps out there for commercial reasons that isn’t. It’s all follow the bouncing ball.

Q: What is it about the crooner era that has endured, and has so many younger guys singing it too?

It allowed people to touch each other, both figuratively and literally. You can dance, and touch each other cerebrally.

Q: In your 51st year in show business, what do you know about being a performer that you didn’t know when you started?

When I started out, I had nothing to talk about. I had no history. Somebody said “You know, you should talk more,” so they sent me to this wonderful television writer Harry Crane, who used to write for all these variety shows. He said “What you do is, you go out there, do a couple of songs and then you say, “You know, this room is so small, a man dropped his toupee on the floor, and they had wall-to-wall carpeting!” I said “I can’t do that!” My own self-effacing humor developed over time. I tell the history of the song, where I was when I heard it. It all comes together, and that doesn’t change. I do that in front of a symphony and at the Colony. When you come see me there, you’ll see. It’s all the same thing.