January 25, 2018 – by John Anson for Lancashire Telegraph

IT is hard to believe that Jack Jones will be heading to Manchester next week as part of a tour to celebrate his 80th birthday.

His enthusiasm for performing remains as strong as ever and you can tell that he’s genuinely looking forward to playing to fans in the UK.

“Fortunately my health is good and I can still do what I need to do and it’s still fun. I sing for the joy of doing it. When the good lord tells me I can’t sing very well any more then that’ll be the time I stop.”

With a career spanning more than 60 years, Jack Jones is acknowledged as one of the great interpreters of a song – up there with the likes of Sinatra and Tony Bennett.

“Sometimes that gets me into trouble,” he said. “I tend to feel the jazz side of the song and put it in a jazz setting rather than it being a straight rock thing.

“I was slapped on the hand by my first producer when I’d try to change the melodies on songs we were recording.

“He’d say ‘just stay with the melody’. I have to say at the time, he was right. I had hits with Impossible Dream and Wives and Lovers which were both simple songs.

“But I tend to like songs that are more complex and have chord changes that make the hairs on my arm raise up.”

Jack has never taken his talent for granted.

“You can’t do that,” he said. “I have always tried to make my voice as refined and distinctive as possible without being contrived and that requires hard work.”

It is interesting, therefore, to hear his views on current singers and the increasing reliance on technology.

“The thing that bothers me is that everybody expects that every singer is put through a harmoniser and their pitch is straightened out before they hit the market,

“That’s the part of singing that is hard to do when you’re learning – staying in pitch and hearing everything right. Now it’s a given.

“It can take a singer and put them in tune when in real life they can’t actually do it.”

Given his considerable back catalogue – Jack has released 60 albums in his career – preparing for the 80th birthday tour has involved a lot of hard work.

“I have gone through every piece of music I have ever done,” he said. “I always have a concert which changes continuously but this tour it’s been harder to decide what to include.

“There are certain songs such as If and a few other of the original hits which audiences in England know so well that I always have to do. The theme from Love Boat is another.”

Jack admits he is “a very definite Anglophile” and that his fans in the UK are very special to him.

“My grandfather was born in Wales (the birthday tour opened in Aberdare, his birthplace, this week) and I toured the UK extensively with my father before coming back as an entertainer in my own right.”

Jack’s father Allan was a movie star and performer who had a hit with the song Donkey Serenade.

“I have these wonderful fans who over time have become friends,” he said. “We have become part of each other’s lives.”

Jack said that the 80th birthday shows are not a farewell tour.

“I don’t know after this if I will do an extensive tour,” he said. “But I may do what Tony (Bennett) does doing one-off or two-off shows. I’ll certainly keep on singing.”

Jack Jones, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, Thursday, February 1. Details from 0161 907 9000 or www.bridgewater-hall.co.uk