Jack Jones, the smooth crooner behind the iconic theme for TV’s “The Love Boat,” fittingly has romance in mind for his current set.
“It’s built for romantic, emotional drama –– it’s not about rattling off the hits,” says Jones, who is appearing 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 3, at Trump Taj Mahal Casino and Resort in Atlantic City. “It runs the gamut from pop to jazz to Broadway.”
The veteran singer-actor, who scored his biggest hits in the early ’60s as traditional pop was giving way to rock, likes to mix things up. He plans to perform his Grammy-winning tracks, “Lollipops and Roses” and “Wives and Lovers,” a Gershwin medley and the classic “Mack the Knife,” albeit with his own lyrics in tribute to Ella Fitzgerald.
But he also will feature Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Music of the Night,” a “vignette” from “Man of La Mancha,” a musical in which he toured; and a mash-up of “Imagine” and “From a Distance.”
Jones talks about staying true to his musical instincts and how “The Love Boat” helped keep his career afloat.
Q: Do you have any special memories of performing in A.C.?
A: Way before the renaissance, one of the first places I ever worked was a place called The Bistro. It was a charming little club. I was thrilled to have the job. I had top billing, but the owner wanted to be fair. So he put Kay Carroll, who was a ventriloquist, on the other side of the marquee. When I came to work from my direction, I had top billing. When she came to work from her direction, she had top billing. We had a great time.
Then there was playing the Steel Pier. We used to do seven shows a day –– short ones, but still seven shows a day. We’d sit in the little dressing room built out over the ocean and could hear that diving horse every hour hitting the water.
Q: What singers helped shape your style?
A: Of course, Sinatra because I was in high school –– it was all I listened to when I came up in school. He had just started his renaissance with “Songs for Swinging Lovers” and the ballads. “Only the Lonely” was probably the best ballad album ever made. I was very much affected by that, and Mel Torme and Peggy Lee and they all became my friends.
Q: As musical tastes changed, you stayed constant with your classic pop style.
A: Back in the flower child time, when music was about peace and love and getting stoned, a lot of us didn’t know what to do. I just kept singing. I made an album called “Live at the Sands” in Vegas. I was doing songs that were the best songs I could choose and that I could adapt to –– I even did “Spinning Wheel.” I’ve been more of a jazz singer. I had hit records, but was being held back and rightly so. My producer kept saying, don’t deviate from the melody or you’re never going to have a hit.
Q: How did singing “The Love Boat” theme revive your career?
A: “The Love Boat” show revitalized not only me, but the entire ship business. Before that, I would never work on ships –– it just was not a good place to be. They started offering us top money and great perks.
It was a great time all of a sudden. It went on for quite a long time, until they built so many ships and got really fat and didn’t need that any more. It was a lot of fun. It was great for everybody –– there was a whole generation that watched “The Love Boat” that maybe had missed me and they picked up on me.
Q: You came from a show business family –– your parents were both actors. Did you always want to perform, or did you harbor a dream to be something else?
A: I just wanted to sing and act, that’s all I wanted to do. I loved to sing. I’ve been very blessed with a voice that is not going downhill yet. My range is better than it was. The timbre has changed a bit. I like it because it sounds lived-in. I just keep singing. I keep using it. This refers to a few things in life: If you don’t use it, you lose it.