Feb 2008 – The Desert Sun

The desert’s favorite son, Jack Jones, was called “one of the major singers of our time” by Frank Sinatra and “the greatest pure singer in the world” by Mel Torme. Marking the 50th anniversary of the legendary singer and multi-Grammy Award winner’s show business debut, we spoke with Jack at his home in La Quinta about this significant milestone.

McCALLUM THEATRE: Congratulations, Jack, on your 50th anniversary in show business!

JACK JONES: Thank you, and how did we get here so fast?

MT: Fifty years in show business is a noteworthy milestone. What are some of the highlights of your career?

JJ: Obviously, the biggest highlight was when I first went to work in Las Vegas with my father, Allan Jones, in 1957. It was my first time appearing in the big time, and it was kind of a tryout to see how I would get along and if I really wanted to make a career out it.
The next highlight was when I was asked to record for Capitol Records, where I immediately started having hits, which was a complete shock to me. The first hit “Lollipops and Roses” won the Grammy for Best Pop Male Vocal Performance.
Another highlight was the second Grammy with “Wives and Lovers.” At that Grammy show, I was asked to sing all five nominated songs, and I was up against Tony Bennett for his song “I Want to be Around.” When it came time to sing his
nominated song, I forgot the words, so I just called Tony out of the audience and we sang the song together. It was just a wonderful moment of noncompetitive fun.
“Wives and Lovers” won for Best Male Vocal Performance. I look back and I don’t see that it was a great performance, but it did win. Tony has since gotten even with me five times over.

MT: Has there ever been a moment in a performance when things went horribly wrong?

JJ: There was one time in Vero Beach, Florida, where I was doing a concert. The venue wanted an intermission, and they wanted a first half. I like to go straight on through and sing without an intermission. My manager suggested that we let the musicians play the first half of the show. They were wonderful jazz players, and we thought it would be fine. I got to the theater about halfway through their part of the show, and I looked at my drummer and he just glared at me. He was sweating, real “flop sweat.” Every time they finished a number, the audience was very cold and either didn’t applaud at all or just clapped lightly. They got through the first half, and when they came off the stage, my drummer said, “Don’t you ever do that to us again.” I didn’t know what he was talking about.
Intermission ended; and when I went on stage, the entire audience booed me. I said, “Stop everything, hold it, you are booing me and I haven’t even sung yet. What’s going on?” “You’re late,” they were screaming at me, and they just kept screaming and booing. The theater had not announced that I was coming on in just the second half. I told them, “I love to sing, if you shut up and stop yelling, I”ll sing.” At the end of the show, I got a standing ovation.
There was another time when I was starting out when I worked at kind of a sleazy place in Vancouver. I was backstage
waiting while the comedian was on and I heard a big bang, then I heard people start screaming, and then the show
stopped. A woman had come to see my show and her boyfriend, who had just gotten out of prison, came in to reclaim her but he found her with another guy. She pulleda gun out of her purse and shot him between the legs.
Everyone ran out of the place and the only people left in the room were hookers and pushers. The club manager pushed
me onto the stage and said not to mention what just happened.

MT: Last time we spoke with you, you told another funny story about one of your first acting jobs.

JJ: When I was first starting out, I had just made Jukebox Rhythm, a “B” movie that took only 12 days to make. I was only 20 years old, and I was pretty good in the movie. I was out here in the desert and Jukebox Rhythm was playing at the Village Theatre. I bought a ticket and went in to see how the audience liked it, but they laughed at all the wrong times. I left the theater and waited out-side to be recognized, but no one recognized me. I was on
the screen for two hours and no one even recognized me! They just walked right past me.

MT: And now, here you are, at the milestone of 50 years in show business and you continue to work around the world
and play to rave reviews and sold-out houses.

JJ: I am working on a new album, and I am working in Florida and Las Vegas a lot. I have shows scheduled around the U.S. this year, and I have another tour scheduled throughout the U.K. for the entire month of May.

MT: You have a show at the McCallum Theatre on March 15 celebrating your show business anniversary. What’s on the
program for that night?

JJ: It’s going to be a musical celebration of my career. Marilyn and Alan Bergman will sit around a piano, and Alan will sing some of the great songs they have written. I have been close friends with the Bergmans for years, and I want that musical and lyrical warmth around me.
Patti Austin is a great interpreter of song, and I am pleased she will be on the stage with me.
I’m going to sing with Bob Anderson in a set of duets that I wish I was able to sing with the original artists. Bob’s a great impressionist, and it will seem like I am actually singing with Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., and other great singers.
I will also have a section where I sing some of my favorite songs. It’s just going to be an intimate evening of celebration.

JACK JONES CELEBRATES 50 YEARS IN SHOW BUSINESS With Special Guests Patti Austin, Alan & Marilyn Bergman, and Bob Anderson
Sat, March 15, 8pm