Howard Jones (musician)
Howard Jones, 2008
|Birth name||John Howard Jones|
|Born||23 February 1955|
|Genres||New Wave, synthpop, pop rock|
|Occupations||Musician, singer, songwriter|
|Instruments||Keyboards, synthesizer, vocals, drums, lead vocals, piano|
|Labels||Elektra, East West|
Howard Jones (born 23 February 1955) is an English musician, singer and songwriter. According to the Guinness Book of British Hit Singles & Albums, "Jones is an accomplished singer-songwriter who was a regular chart visitor in the mid-1980s with his brand of synthpop. Jones, who was equally popular in the U.S., appeared at Live Aid". Allmusic journalist, Stephen Thomas Erlewine adds, "Jones was one of the defining figures of mid-1980s synthpop. His music merged the technology intensive sound of New Wave with the cheery optimism of hippies and late 1960s pop. Jones racked up a string of hits in the mid and late 1980s, before he retreated into being a cult figure in the 1990s".
John Howard Jones is the eldest of four boys (Howard's brothers, Roy, Martin, and Paul, were all musicians and had their own band, called Red Beat, in the late 1970s and early 1980s). Born in Southampton to Welsh parents, he spent his early years growing up in Rhiwbina, Cardiff, South Wales where he attended Heol Llanishen Fach primary school, and then Whitchurch Grammar School; and later in Stokenchurch, near High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, where he attended the Royal Grammar School. Jones took piano lessons from the age of seven, and when he was a teen, his family had relocated to Canada, which is where he joined his first band, a progressive rock group called Warrior. Eventually, Jones moved back to the United Kingdom, where he played in a number of different groups. He then spent a year at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. On his return from the Royal Northern College of Music, Jones was introduced to a Buddhist practitioner Bill Bryant by two of his brothers. Bryant was said to have a powerful influence over Jones and wrote the lyrics to some of Jones's early songs. In the late 1980s, Jones began practicing Nichiren Buddhism as a member of the worldwide Buddhist association Soka Gakkai International, and Jones has credited his daily practice of chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo since 1991 as "having a profoundly positive effect on my life."
Jones appeared as a solo artist in local venues in High Wycombe, before inviting the mime artist Jed Hoile, who used to do improvised choreography, whilst doused in white paint, as Jones played behind him. In 1983, Jones hired the Marquee Club in London and invited record labels to come and see him perform. After a BBC Radio 1 session, he obtained support slots with China Crisis and OMD before signing to WEA in the UK and Elektra in the US in mid 1983.
Major record label career
His first single called "New Song" was released in September 1983 and reached the UK Top 5 and US Top 30. He made his debut performance on BBC Television's Top of the Pops in October 1983, and he watched his tape-delayed performance on a borrowed television resting on an ironing board before a concert at the University of Kent. He subsequently had four more hits over the next twelve months and a UK Number 1 album, Human's Lib, which eventually went double platinum. Credited with jointly writing the lyrics for six songs on the album was the lyricist Bill Bryant. Thanks to repeated exposure on MTV, the album became a moderate hit in the US. Later in 1984, "New Song" and "What Is Love" became American Top 40 hits, while "Pearl in the Shell" became his third UK Top 10 single. Human's Lib went gold and platinum in a number of countries. Jones had developed a loyal teen following, and his mother and father, Thelma and John Jones, ran his fan club.
In the summer of 1984, he released "Like to Get to Know You Well", which he said was 'dedicated to the original spirit of the Olympic Games'. Although it was not an official Olympic anthem for the Games in Los Angeles that summer, it was a worldwide hit. It reached Number 4 in the UK Singles Chart. The sleeve featured the song title in ten different languages; while Jones sang the title line in French and German on the extended 12" version. The song also appeared in the film Better Off Dead (1985) and the computer game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories (2006).
Jones' second long player was a remix album. It contained six songs, all but one of which had been previously released, but which appeared in elongated formats, including the multilingual version of "Like to Get to Know You Well". The record sleeve for The 12 Inch Album, featured a miniature Jones standing next to a 12-inch ruler. The album went gold in the UK.
In 1985, Jones released his second studio album, Dream into Action. He introduced his own backing band, including the female backing vocalist trio, Afrodiziak. Afrodiziak featured Caron Wheeler and Claudia Fontaine. Playing bass guitar was Jones' own brother, Martin. He had to have an extra string added to his instrument to play some of the bass lines, which had originally been played on a keyboard. One of the singles released from this album, "No One Is to Blame", was later re-recorded and featured Phil Collins as drummer and producer. Dream into Action was a worldwide hit and Jones' most successful album, reaching number 2 in the UK and number 10 in the US, staying on the US chart for almost a year. The album spawned the hit singles "Things Can Only Get Better", "Life In One Day", and "Look Mama". In July 1985, Jones performed at Wembley Stadium as part of the Live Aid concert, singing his 1984 hit "Hide and Seek" while playing a piano belonging to Freddie Mercury. He also embarked on a world tour reaching Japan, Australia and the US.
In the spring of 1986 in the US, he released Action Replay, an EP of remixes that featured a new version of "No One Is to Blame". It became Jones' biggest US hit, peaking at number 4. However, by this time, Jones' fortunes were changing in his native UK and "No One Is To Blame" peaked at number 16. His next single, "All I Want", peaked at number 35, and would be his last UK Top 40 hit. Jones released his third studio album, One To One, in October 1986, which peaked at number 10 in the UK and would be his last UK hit album, despite going gold there. Stateside, however, Jones continued to fill large arenas and the single "You Know I Love You Don't You?" went top twenty in 1986 on the Billboard charts.
In June 1988, Jones performed at Amnesty International's Festival of Youth at the Milton Keynes Bowl. Jones' subsequent albums Cross That Line (1989) and In the Running (1992) both performed poorly in the UK, the latter even failing to chart there. However,he had further hits on the Billboard charts in the US during this period, including "Everlasting Love" (1989, his second number 1 hit on the US Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks chart after "No One Is to Blame"), "The Prisoner" (1989), and "Lift Me Up" (1992).
Jones continued to play large venues in the US during the late 1980s, and the Cross That line tour played major outdoor venues in the US, during 1989. With his ten-year tenure on the Warner music label at an end, a greatest hits compilation The Best of Howard Jones was released in 1993. The album peaked at number 36 in the UK, and by 2005 (12 years after its release) it was certified silver by the BPI for over 60,000 copies sold in the UK.
Jones also had success as a songwriter for other artists in the early 1990s. He co-wrote the dance music hits "Heaven Give Me Words" and "Your Wildlife" with the members of Propaganda. The tracks appeared on the 1990 album 1234; "Heaven Give Me Words" reached number 22 on the Adult Contemporary chart and "Your Wildlife" reached number 22 on the Dance Music/Club Play Singles chart.
Independent recording and producing
After Jones' contract with Warner Music UK expired, he concentrated on production, songwriting and running a successful vegetarian restaurant called 'Nowhere' (originally at 11 Waverly Place, New York City). He started his own record label, Dtox, releasing a number of albums through the label, such as Working in the Backroom, produced in his own recording studio ('The Shed'). The album, which sold over 20,000 copies in the first year of release, was made available only at concerts and through his official website.
The track "If You Love", was featured on the soundtrack to the TV series Party of Five. Jones continued to produce and write for a number of artists during the mid to late 1990s, including Martin Grech, DBA, and Sandie Shaw. In 2001, Jones played keyboards for Ringo Starr on his All Starr Band tour.
On 20 September 2003, Jones played a 20th anniversary concert at the Shepherds Bush Empire, London, commemorating the release of his first single. He was joined by Midge Ure and Nena, as well as his mime artist, Jed Hoile. A recording of this concert was later released on DVD. Jones continued to tour and write new music, collaborating with Robbie Bronnimann to co-write and co-produce music for Sugababes, and Jones' own 2005 album Revolution of the Heart. He toured playing gigs in the United States, Italy, Germany and Sweden and played a number of times at the Edinburgh Festival in 2006. The same year Jones provided a vocal for the song "Into the Dark" by Ferry Corsten for the latter's album, L.E.F. Jones also re-recorded "Things Can Only Get Better" in Simlish, the fictional language spoken by characters in Electronic Arts', The Sims 2. Jones was also featured on Katrina Carlson's cover of "No One Is to Blame", which entered the US Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks chart in 2007.
In October 2006, Jones released "Building Our Own Future" as a podsafe track, as one of several established artists looking to use podcasts as a new means of promoting their music and tours. The song debuted at number 1 on the PMC Top10 on 29 October 2006 and spent four weeks at the top of the chart. Howard's track "Revolution of the Heart" spent five weeks at number 1 on the PMC Top10 during 2007 and finished the year as the number 2 song in their annual countdown.
Jones embarked on an acoustic tour of Australia in 2007, beginning in Brisbane and concluding on 5 April in Perth. The Revolution Remixed & Surrounded album was followed in November by Live in Birkenhead. Jones performed another acoustic set, with other 1980s acts at the Retrofest, on 1 September 2007 at Culzean Castle in Ayrshire, Scotland. Jones also went into the studios with The Young Punx to record vocals for their summer 2008 release, "And The Feel Goes On".
Jones is a member of Sōka Gakkai International, and is musical director of one of its choirs, the Glorious Life Chorus. The chorus performs some of his songs in its repertoire, including "Building Our Own Future" and "Respected". He returned to Australia again in 2009, this time accompanied by vocalist Laura Clapp and music technologist Robbie Bronnimann. On 26 February 2009, Jones was at the UK premiere of Roland's new V-Piano in Bristol, and performed "Hide and Seek". He continues to tour, and played the 'Big Hair Affair 2009' on 1 August 2009 at the Ryedale Arena, Pickering, North Yorkshire.
His latest album, Ordinary Heroes was released in November 2009, and he toured London, Cardiff and Manchester with a string section and the Morriston Orpheus Choir (in St David's Hall in Cardiff). A single, "Soon You'll Go", preceded the album's launch.
On 29 November 2011, a UK tour was announced. Human's Lib and Dream Into Action were performed in April 2012 across eight venues. A weekly radio series coincided with tour called Electronic 80s with Howard Jones on Absolute Radio.
He recently appeared in "The Song That Changed My Life" on BYUtv, the cable station for Brigham Young University focusing on programming relating to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
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- "The Song That Changed My Life - Howard Jones". BYUtv. Retrieved 2012-10-08.
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