Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Whatever Happened to Howard Jones?

I must have been graduating from high school when Howard Jones burst into the music scene with his synthpop brand of music--keyboard-rich, ultra-quantized, and mega-danceable. His was the kind of music being dished out by a classically-trained pianist with a couple of fancy synthesizers to toy around with, and the result was sheer joy. Add to that the thick vocals of this Englishman, and you've got a hit in your hands.

And hits did Howard Jones produce, who's seen here in a photo during the height of his career (left) and then some 20 years later.  You might remember tracks like WHAT IS LOVE, LIKE TO GET TO KNOW YOU WELL, THINGS CAN ONLY GET BETTER, and LIFE IN ONE DAY, all of which became top charters in the U.K and U.S. To refresh your memory, take a look at this video and watch out for the crazy 80s hair:

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While he continued to have considerable success in the U.S. in the early 90s, his last U.K. top 40 hit ALL I WANT came in 1986. After that, he balanced his music career with managing a vegetarian restaurant named NOWHERE.

But nothing can stop a musician at heart. By 2001, Jones was touring as a keyboardist for Ringo Starr on the latter's ALL STARR BAND, but soon after was concentrating on his own gigs, particularly his 20th anniversary concert staged in London in 2003. See here two more videos. The first is of Jones (while touring with Starr) performing THINGS CAN ONLY GET BETTER. The second is of the artist singing PRISONER in the 2003 show celebrating 20 years of Howard Jones's music. 

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The success of his concerts prompted the Englishman to produce REVOLUTION OF THE HEART, a retro electronic album targeting a niched group of loyal fans in the U.S., U.K., and selected European countries. Though the project was a success, sales paled in comparison to when the musician had legions of fans across the globe.

And so has been Howard Jones's career--one steeped in a unique 80s sound which he has pushed successfully into the next century. And though his listeners have become much like a tribe in number, they have remained steadfast.

2008 marks Jones's 25th year in the industry, and just last month, he celebrated the event with yet another show plus a tour beginning with a performance in Japan (he is incidentally a member of Japanese Buddhist lay organization and is the musical director of its choir). There, he and others visited a Japanese karaoke club, and just for fun, Jones sang one of his own songs. His score? A 92. 

In between his shows today, Howard Jones is working on a triple CD of his 25th anniversary concert. But before we get to see that in stores, here's a clip taken by an avid fan in the audience of him singing what else...WHAT IS LOVE.

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