JACK JONES will begin his landmark UK tour next week in a most-unusual location — for an honourable reason.
The superstar American singer, embarking on his 80th Birthday Celebration Tour, kicks off at the small Welsh town of Aberdare, in honour of his late grandfather, who was a proud Welsh miner.
And, as the evergreen Jack reveals, he’ll be remembering his amazing mother and father, too, as he looks back on 80 marvellous years.
“My promoter asked me to come over to the UK for a party for my 80th, so I decided to do a tour,” reveals Jack, whose milestone birthday is on Sunday.
“So I told him I wanted to open the tour by doing a show in my grandfather’s home town of Aberdare.
“They don’t have a very big hall there, but I just wanted to do a show there regardless of the money factor.
“I have already been there with my little daughter, and I took a picture of her next to the sign pointing into town.
“It will be a wonderful thing, to open the tour there in honour of my grandfather. He is my roots to the UK. He was in Pennsylvania, still a coal miner, when I knew him.
“He used to get behind the piano and sing a song.
“His voice wasn’t that great because he didn’t get to sing often enough, but he was a nice man who had brought his family over here.”
Even with those Welsh roots, Jack is true American music aristocracy, admired by the likes of Frank Sinatra.
Less well-known is the fact that Jack was also on the Ed Sullivan Show the night The Beatles made their US debut.
He has been around a long time, therefore, but with parents like his, it was no surprise that he carved out such a fine career in the entertainment business.
Both his dad, Allan Jones, and mum, Irene Hervey, were stars themselves, in acting and singing.
“Dad was a light opera singer,” Jack recalls. “But he was also a wonderful leading man, with a great sense of comedy, and made a lot of movies with the Marx Brothers.
“He also had one huge hit with Jeanette MacDonald, in a movie called The Firefly, in 1937. Back then, it was quite something and that movie went all over the world.
“Dad enjoyed it, he was reasonably famous and everybody loved him.
“My mother did a lot of movies for MGM, and both my parents were under contract to them. They would get loaned out to other studios, but MGM owned them.
“Mom did oodles of movies. She retired because of my sister and myself, but later came back as a character actor. She was in Play Misty For Me, as the radio station owner.
“She was also in Mr Peabody And The Mermaid, the original movie that Splash was made from. And then she did Cactus Flower, playing Walter Matthau’s first dental patient at the beginning of the movie.
“She gave up acting after working with an over-zealous young method actor,” reveals Jack.
“He couldn’t fake anything, it all had to be real, and when he slammed her against a wall — an older woman by then — it really hurt her.
“She said: ‘I’ve had enough of this showbusiness.’”
Jack himself, in case you’ve forgotten, appeared in a special movie. Airplane II, the madcap parody hit from 1982 saw him make a cameo as Lounge Singer, performing the theme from The Love Boat.
“It was probably one of the better jokes in the movie,” admits Jack, who really did provide the Love Boat theme and actually appeared in the TV series alongside his father.
“Anyway, I got a call and I was sent a script. The description was ‘broken-down singer’, but I read it and decided it’d be funny!
“To be in Love Boat with Dad was strange,” he adds.
“We had sung together, but never done anything like that, an acting piece. It was based on a father and son, the son going off to do his own thing and the father deciding he’d never speak to him again.
“But they turn up on the boat together, trapped, and it has a happy ending.”
He makes sure all his concerts have a happy ending, too — Jack, who pulls at his famous mane of white hair to prove it is real, also points out that some of the old standards may not appeal to feminists, and if not, he apologises for that.
One case in point is the Burt Bacharach/Hal David classic Wives And Lovers.
A number that gives wives advice on how to look good for their husbands, or risk them going off with some attractive girl, it is very much of its time.
“Some people made a deal of it,” he says. “But it was written in all innocence.”
If you go to see Jack celebrate 80 years, you’ll get to hear one of America’s greatest singers.
For full dates, go to jackjones.lolipop.jp/tour/