February, 2009 – by Chelsea Greenwood for The Boca Raton Magazine

You may not know his name, but you certainly know his voice, especially when you hear Jack Jones crooning the theme to “The Love Boat.” When he first recorded the song, Jones didn’t recognize a hit in the making, he says.
“I said, ‘Good luck with it. Between you and me, I don’t know who’s going to watch a show about a cruise ship.'”
But Jones has had enough successes during his 50-year career to compensate for that oversight. Raised in Hollywood by his singer/movie star father, Allan Jones, and actress mother, Irene Hervey, Jones has been performing for as long as he can remember. Over the years, he has produced more than 50 albums (17 of which made Billboard’s Top 20 list) and he has won two Grammys for best male pop performance with “Lollipops and Roses” and “Wives and Lovers.” He has performed with Judy Garland and Dean Martin, and he counts Mel Torme and Tony Bennett as friends.
Now, Jones tours the country to bring audiences back to that golden age of entertainment with his renditions of classics from the American Songbook; he’ll be performing at the Royal Room (The Colony Hotel, 155 Hammon Ave., Palm Beach, 561/659-8100, thecolonypalmbeach.com) on Feb. 24-28 and March 3-7.
Here, the singer whom The New York Times called “the most technically accomplished male pop singer of a vanishing ilk,” reflects upon his accomplished career.

What did you learn about performing from your father?

He wanted me to be trained as a singer, as a proper singer, not just somebody who goes out and abuses his voice. So he sent me to two different operatic teachers, and I’m most thankful for that because, knock on wood, throughout my career, I haven’t had any nodes or nodules or anything like that on my cords.

I read that you were inspired by a performance that Frank Sinatra gave once at your high school. What effect did it have on you?

I was already a fan. My ears perked up when I was buying his albums and studying them, studying the phrasing, the interpretation. The whole mindset behind what he was doing was just fabulous compared to other pop singers. Nancy [Sinatra] was a friend of mine; one day, Nancy didn’t say anything about [the performance], we were told to be in the auditorium for an assembly. So we went down there, the curtain opened and out walked Sinatra.
It was just wonderful. He was doing all those songs for swingin’ lovers like, “Got You Under My Skin” and “Jeepers Creepers.” That was good stuff in those days. We didn’t know much else. All we knew was the beginning of rock ‘n’ roll. We didn’t have a lot to distract us from the Sinatra kind of stuff.

Your career took off during a period?the mid-60s?when rock music was starting to capture the imagination of the younger generation. At the time, you also were a young man. What was the attraction of the big band sound, and did you feel that was a risky move given the trends at the time in music?

I really wanted to be a rock ‘n’ roll singer, but I couldn’t do it. [Kapp Records] signed me, and then I went in the Air Force Reserve. They gave me two weeks off, and, during the two weeks, I made an album; that record was called “Lollipops and Roses.” Now we’re into [the era of] rock ‘n’ roll, and here’s this beautiful album with lush strings, and we’re thinking: “We don’t have much of a chance with this, but we like it; it’s pretty.” And “Lollipops and Roses” started to become a hit in Boston. And they essentially said, “If you shorten this record somehow, you could have a hit. It’s a little bit too long.” So we did, and it was a hit. Then I won a Grammy. [laughs]
It [his career] all was rolling along, and I couldn’t stop it if I wanted to. But at the same time, I was too young almost to catch up with what was going on. I was trying to be a confident and sophisticated performer performing for older people than my generation.

You were a mainstay as a guest during the heyday of television variety shows and talk shows. What was your favorite show to appear on and why?

I loved doing the Bob Hope Show, and I did quite a few of those. I loved Bob; I loved the light comedy and the fun of it all. The other one I used to do all the time was Dean Martin. That was the most fun; his attitude was so relaxed.
Judy Garland was another favorite of mine. As unpredictable as she was, that was her charm. When the audience watched her and heard her sing, the unpredictability of it all was part of the allure. You never knew when she was going to get to the end of that note and if she was going to show up. It was very exciting, but she was one of the most fun people to sing with.

We did the “Judy Garland Christmas Show,” and we used to sit and wonder if the show was actually going to be taped because she wouldn’t come out of her dressing room. Her agents and managers would be begging her to come out.

They had a “Yellow Brick Road” painted on the floor from her dressing room all the way to the stage. It was really like dealing with a little child.

When did you sense that the “Love Boat” theme song was starting to take on a life of its own?

At every cruise that would take off from Port Everglades, they’ play my record. Everyone would stand on the side throwing confetti and singing “The Love Boat.” I went out there one time incognito and stood there to see if anyone would notice it was me. I started to sing, and somebody told me to shut up because they couldn’t hear my record playing.

Do you think that the classics that you, Tony Bennett and others continue to perform, and that so many people still enjoy, will continue to be appreciated by future generations?

It all depends on marketing. I think you can make anything trendy if you have enough resources, so it depends on which they think they can do more with.
Eventually, all the people that can relate to that music will die off, and these kids will be left with four and five chords to play for the rest of their lives. My daughter, who [turns] 18 in February, we sit in the car and she plays stuff, and there’s a lack of sophistication in music itself because it’s so easy for kids to put a song together. It’s become easier and easier, and the bar has gone lower and lower as far as musicianship.
All us guys are going to die off, and then I don’t know what music is going to be. It’s going to be like going into that bar in “Star Wars”?listening to strange sounds and funny-looking people.

What do you think audiences seek when they come to your shows?

The romance. It’s funny, women come in and some of them are like little girls; they’re between their 40s and 60s, and they just want to swoon?of course, I look at myself in the mirror and go, “Not at this.” But that’s what’s going on. It’s not like Tom Jones; they’re not looking to throw their underwear on stage. They just want to have that romantic moment.