American vocal star Jack Jones talks to Gavin Allen about swapping impressions with Rob Brydon and his own Welsh heritage
Jones is American aristocracy. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame and sang on the Ed Sullivan show the night The Beatles made their US debut.
He has enjoyed more than 50 years in the business starring in films as well as scoring hits and earned the blessing of his idol Frank Sinatra.
But as Jones, 71, returns to Cardiff this week his thoughts have turned to investigating his Welsh heritage.
“My grandfather was from Aberdare,” he says from his suite at Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington.
“He was a coal miner who emigrated and then continued mining in Pennsylvania. I’ve been to Wales a few times and it would have been nice to explore a bit of the family history on this tour.
“But my wife and I, we were only married five months ago, and we are going to Munich to visit her family after the show so we will have to make Wales our next trip.”
His Welsh connections don’t end there either. Among his acting roles was a cameo in Cruise Of The Gods, the one-off comedy starring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, and Jones is a fan of Brydon’s versatile voice.
“Rob has a great talent for impressions,” he says.
“We sat around doing impressions with each other quite a lot. I do Walter Cronkite and Rob does the most wonderful Bruce Forsyth.
“Bruce is a good friend of mine and it cracked me up so Rob did a video of impersonations for me to keep.”
With his old school American pedigree and a tour to promote it’s a surprise that Jones hasn’t enjoyed a Brucie bonus on Strictly Come Dancing, but he laments a scheduling mix-up.
“My people didn’t realise I was friends with him and by the time they did the only space I had that I could do it on this tour was the week Bruce had booked Mariah Carey,” he groans.
Jones’ new album I Have Never Had It So Good features the trademark classy croon that lit up The Impossible Dream and his Grammy-winning vocal on Wives And Lovers, written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. It bears the marks of a man who has been a professional singer since 1957 when he was 19.
His father Allan Jones, an established singer and film star of the day, taught him to sing but Jones Snr had what his son perceived to be an old fashioned style – unlike new kid on the block Frank Sinatra.
“All would-be singers were listening to Sinatra because he had a different approach, was more conversational in his delivery and the way he phrased,” says Jones, pictured. So how did it feel to read that Sinatra had once called him “One of the major singers of our time”?
“That was misconstrued,” he says with surprising honesty.
“Sinatra said once in an interview in Life Magazine that I ‘could be the next him’, but of course he never went away so no-one ever got the chance to be the next him.
“Some people started using that quote for publicity before my shows and I tried to stop them doing it because that’s not how he meant it. I didn’t feel comfortable with it.”
So why does the quote still adorn Jones’ gig posters now?
Well, that’s just showbiz, baby.