Nothing unusual about this – except this classmate was Nancy Sinatra, daughter of one of the world’s greatest singers.
And when Frank Sinatra sang in the school auditorium, the young Jack Jones knew he wanted to be a singer too.
Jack went on to become a double Grammy-winning international star, performing worldwide to sell-out audiences.
Born in Hollywood, the night his movie star father, Allan Jones, recorded his hit Donkey Serenade, Jack grew up in a showbusiness family. His mother was 1930s actress Irene Hervey.
He attended University High School in Los Angeles, while also studying drama and singing with private teachers chosen by his father. A promising young athlete, he eventually decided to pursue singing and gave up track and football team sports to study the arts.
It was Sinatra’s performance at Jack’s high school that helped shape his career choice.
Now Jack is celebrating Sinatra’s music in a show coming to Bradford. Marking what would have been Sinatra’s 100th birthday this year, Jack reflects on his encounters with him.
“It’s my thank you to Sinatra,” says Jack. “When he retired he said: ‘Jack Jones could fill my shoes’. But then he came back – he never went away!”
Was it a labour of love, deciding which songs to include? “The first decision was what not to sing,” says Jack. “I have a big band with me on stage and it’s all about the swing of Sinatra’s music.”
A selection of Elvis tracks were recently given a classical twist, released against a full orchestra backing. Would Jack approve of a different arrangement of Sinatra’s songs?
“My view is don’t mess around with the original,” he says. “A song like My Way can only be sung the Sinatra way. You just can’t follow that. I say do as the Beatles did and ‘let it be’.”
Jack’s professional debut was a brief stint with his father’s act in Las Vegas when he was 19. He later went out on his own, taking on work a gas station attendant to support himself.
“I had a chip on my shoulder. My father drove me to school in a convertible and I made him drop me off two blocks away,” says Jack. “When I started out, I paid my own way.”
His got his break when a demo he recorded came to the attention of Capitol Records. Still working as a gas station attendant when his next album was released, a highlight for Jack was hearing one of his songs on the car radio while washing a customer’s windshield.
He went on to record songs by the likes of Cole Porter, Gershwin and Burt Bacharach. His hits included The Impossible Dream, What I Did For Love and Wives and Lovers.
He also made it in musical theatre, and his film and TV work includes the theme song to American series The Love Boat.
With more than 50 recorded albums and countless sell-out world tours, Jack continues to charm audiences.
“This show pays tribute to Sinatra, and I sing a selection of my own songs too. I know how much they mean to people, so I have a tremendous sense of responsibility in performing them,” he says. “These songs came from the great songwriters, it was a golden period of creativity. I don’t see such originality anymore.”
He’s looking forward to returning to St George’s Hall, a place he remembers well. “My parents performed on variety bills in the UK and I used to tour with them as a kid. We came to Bradford; I remember staying at a boarding place near the venue. I forget which theatre they were at, there were so many.
“Your concert hall is beautiful, there’s a lot of history on that stage.”
* Jack Jones is at St George’s Hall on Wednesday, February 10. Call (01274) 432000.