by James Kershaw

Just like fellow singers Frank Sinatra, who worked as a paper delivery boy, and one-time hospital porter Mick Jagger, Jack Jones struggled to get by before finding stardom.
The veteran crooner held down a job as a petrol station attendant when his first album was released in the early Sixties.
“It was a hard period of my life,” recalls Jack, who comes from California.”In high school I’d been a gas station attendant and when I started singing, I went back to my old bosses and asked for a job to make endsmeet.”
But for Jack it was a defining moment in what was to become a glittering career, spanning more than five decades.
“I was wiping a guy’s windscreen one sunny June afternoon and my record was playing on his radio,”he says with astonishment.
“I wanted to tell him it was my song, but I just couldn’t bear to. He would never have believed me. I remember the song was I’ve Got a Lot of Livin’ to Do. It should have been called I’ve Got a Lot of Wipin’ to Do!”
Almost 50 years, and some 50 albums later, the 71-year-old is still at it, and comes to the Cliffs Pavilion, Westcliff, to perform Saturday, November 28.
The singer is promoting his new album I Never Had it So Good, his first release since the early Nineties.
The album features previously unreleased tracks, covers of classics like the Beach Boys?s God Only Knows and the title track by songwriting duo Paul Williams and Roger Nichols.
He says: “That track I recorded a while ago, but I’ve always liked it because it’s a positive and romantic tale.
“I’ve been married for five months so it goes rather well with my life at the moment.
“There are some special tracks on the album, ones that were way ahead of their time and sound like they were recorded yesterday.
“It’s good to get a release back out there.”
Jack’s musical tastes are firmly rooted in jazz and swing, and he was inspired by classic crooners such as Sammy Davis and Mel Torme.
During high school, a young Jack was treated to an unforgettable moment when his classmate Nancy Sinatra persuaded her father Frank to sing for the pupils.
Ol’ Blue Eyes later commented on Jack’s own ability, saying he was “one of the major singers of our time.”
Putting these influences aside, the singer is not too sure where his love for the style comes from.
“I have no idea why I like my sound,” he says.
“That’s just what I wanted to do. You could ask the same thing to Michael Buble now.
“I?m just a complete jazz-influenced person and quite meticulous in doing things in the right way.
“A well crafted song is important to me, and music has to be done in the correct way”
Even though he’s performed at prestigious venues like New York’s Carnegie Hall and the Oak Room, Jack was most concerned about doing things right than when he sang in the White House ? on more than one occasion.
“I have been there a couple of times,” he recalls.
“Once during Lyndon Johnson’s presidency, once for Ronald Reagan, and then for Bill Clinton.
“It’s very nice performing there, but you feel like you’re on your toes and you have to do things properly.
“It?s a bit like meeting the Queen and asking yourself ‘are my manners up to par here?'”
When not performing for presidents or singing elsewhere, Jack can be found acting, and has starred in a number of TV shows and films.
One of his most recent roles was as himself in comedy film Cruise of the Gods, starring Rob Brydon, Steve Coogan and David Walliams.
“I had a really great time doing that,” he says.
“Steve wasn’t around that much, but Rob and I had a great time.”
“I have used acting in my work to tell a story and I find that very gratifying.”
Jack admits he’s pleased to be coming back to perform in Westcliff, a town he’s visited many times over the years.
The singer has both family connections to Leigh and a friend of his used to run Talk of the South nightclub, now known as Talk.
“It’s pretty, it’s on the ocean, it’s a typical British resort and it’s lovely,” he says.
“I love the Cliffs Pavilion as a venue and the crowds are always great and very respectful.”
“I’m very much looking forward to coming back.”