Celebrity interview - Howard Jones
PUBLISHED: 00:00 08 May 2017
The 1980's saw a new dawn in pop music and Howard Jones was at the forefront of the addictive new sound
oward Jones was the ultimate 80’s pop hero: cool enough to be acceptable to the boys and cute enough to attract the girls, his music had a style and hook all of its own, and even now those opening beats of his first hit, New Song, are enough to transport the listener back through the decades to a time when life was all about discovery.
For Jones it has always been about the music. He took his first piano lessons at the age of seven, and such was his talent and dedication, he followed his passion right to The Royal Northern College of Music.
‘I went through classical training,’ he tells me, ‘but while all this was going on I was always into my pop music and writing my own stuff. For me the Holy Grail was to be in a pop band; from a really early age I had been to see live music concerts and been really excited by that.
‘I had an idea for doing a one man electronic band; it had not been done before and you could buy all the stuff at your local music store. I saw it as a real opportunity. I lived in High Wycombe and started off doing lots of local gigs, building a following and then, literally, taking them with me to bigger gigs in London.’
Unlike today, when would-be pop stars can build a following on social media and be seen and heard by record labels without even leaving their bedroom, Jones had to build a following one fan at a time and prove to the London venues that he was worth a booking.
‘I would play a gig in High Wycombe and we would literally grab the people as they were leaving, collecting phone numbers and addresses. We would then phone everybody, or send a flyer, telling them when we were playing again. We would book a coach and then sell tickets to fans for gigs in London. Once we took three coaches to a gig at The Marquee in London; it was a brilliant day out! They wouldn’t book you if you couldn’t prove you could fill the place – and you had to play in London or you couldn’t move on.’
Jones was spotted and signed by a record label in 1983, his pioneering synthesiser sound gaining him immediate popularity. Multiple hits followed and since then he hasn’t stopped writing and performing; he has sold over 8m albums worldwide and is one of the few British pop stars of the era who has comprehensively ‘broken’ America, where he is still bringing in the audiences both for solo and festival appearances, as the list of US tour dates on his website testify.
As he prepares for another summer of touring, I ask him about the attraction.
‘I just love what I do,’ he says. ‘I just feel that as long as my voice is in good nick and my health is good I shall just keep on. I’m so inspired by people like Mick Jagger in this respect; I really look up to people like that, their music and performance is still really exciting and I think they have just made the best album of their whole career. They love the music, that’s what drives them and that shows.
‘As long as I feel the same way, I’ll keep going.’
Howard Jones is performing at Hangar 34 in Liverpool on 19 May