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HoJo! My Memories of Howard Jones (VIDEOS)

HoJo 1985
Howard Jones, 1985. (Simon Fowler/howardjones.com)

Last weekend here at nj1015.com, I said: remind me to tell you about doing ”crowd control” for Howard Jones” (click here).  Here you go!

Its spring 1989, and Howard Jones is the headliner at another one of those station anniversary parties. For days before the show, we feature lots of HoJo hits.  The day of the anniversary party, you would almost swear that the format has changed from Top 40 to all-Howard Jones-all-the-time!

HoJo is born John Howard Jones, February 23, 1955, in Southampton, Hampshire England. He took piano lessons at the age of 7. While he was a teen, Jones’ family moved to Canada, where Howard joined his first band, a progressive rock group called “Warrior.” Howard and his brothers Roy, Martin and Paul also had their own band “Red Beat” in the late ’70s and early ’80s.

Back in England, Howard Jones played local clubs. In 1983, he hired the “Marquee Club” in London, and invited the record companies to see him perform. After getting good reviews for a BBC Radio performance, and with support from bands like OMD (“If You Leave,” one of Jersey’s Favorite hits!), Jones signs to WEA Records in the UK, and Elektra in the US, in the summer of 1983.

Howard Jones’ first song “New Song” was a top-5 hit in England, and landed in the Top-30 here in the U.S! Thanks to MTV exposure, Howard Jones gains a loyal teen following…and his parents run the Howard Jones fan club!

“What Is Love” (#33/1984), “Things Can Only Get Better” (#5/1985), “Life In One Day” (#19/1985), “No One Is To Blame” (#4/1986) and “You Know I Love You…Don’t You?” (#17/1986) follow!

“Everlasting Love” is headed up the charts (#12/1989), as we rejoin the Craig-meets-Howard Jones story!

So, the big black limo pulls up to the Hyatt Regency Princeton, and the man of the hour steps out. I’m waiting for him, as is my morning man (who is much more imposing than me). It has been decided that we will escort Howard Jones through the hotel, to the backstage area. As we are forming the ‘flying wedge,’ working our way through the crowds (adoring fans), Howard Jones is strangely quiet. Up til now, he hasn’t even said “Hello” to us, his security detail.  When we get to the backstage area, he says, with clear distain: “I came all this way to play a hotel ballroom?!” To my knowledge, he says nothing to anyone else for the rest of the night…and unlike Debbie Gibson two years later, who clearly adores the crowd…Howard Jones plays his music set, and leaves immediately.  Oops! Our listeners love the show…and we never talk about the slight on the air. All is well…

Recently, I’m relating this story to a radio friend (who was stuck back in radio studio engineering the proceedings that night), who tells me that Howard Jones developed a reputation for being rather “surly” at station appearances in the 1980s. By the late 1990s, when my friend gets his chance to meet HoJo at a Philly station, the artist is much more personable and friendly.  My pal and I surmise that by then, he’s humbled. HoJo has only had 2 more chart hits since I met him: “The Prisoner” (#30/1989) and “Lift Me Up” (#32/1992).

Through the 1990s and 200s, Howard Jones continues to write and record new songs on his own label, Dtox. He continiues to tour in the U.K. and North America (touring NOW–he’ll be in Morristown next Saturday night). Box sets of HoJo hits have been released since 2010.  As an interesting  side note, in the 90s, Howard Jones ran a vegetarian restaurant, “Nowhere” in New York City!

HoJo-2010
Howard Jones in 2010. (Simon Fowler/howardjones.com)

What is Howard Jones up to now? Click here for the official website!

howard jones_2012
Howard Jones in Liverpool, April 13, 2012. (Keith Ainsworth/howardjones.com)

Howard Jones has had quite a career, and seems to be enjoying his ’80s icon status.  I’ve always enjoyed his “synthpop” music…and, despite the attitude, am glad to have met him “back in the day.”

And, I’m pleased to report that HoJo has left his “surly” days behind!

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