John Milton Owens (October 17, 1912, Tulsa, Oklahoma – January 26, 1982, Phoenix, Arizona), singer-songwriter, gifted pianist, and a star of the longest running network radio show, Don McNeil's Breakfast Club, was known as "The Cruising Crooner" because of his unique showmanship of cruising through mostly female audiences attending the live Breakfast Club broadcasts, and crooning love ballads to the blushing and giggling women, often singing directly to them, one at a time, sitting on their laps, and nuzzling close to them.
From his start in small, local Chicago radio stations holding up applause signs and his brief performances in vaudeville, to his fame on NBC and ABC as a radio singing star with movie star looks, Jack Owens found ways to stay in the spotlight in popular music with catchy songs, love ballads, and even Hawaiian songs. Some of his music even appeared in such movies as San Antonio Rose in 1941 and From Here to Eternity in 1953.
Jack Owens, who married fellow Chicago radio star Helen Streiff in the early 1930s, started his recording career with independent label, Tower Records, and then after the huge success of "The Hukilau Song", and "I'll Weave a Lei of Stars for You" in 1948, he was signed to Decca, the biggest label at the time.
Overlooked or forgotten by many today, Owens was America's 10th favorite male vocalist from 1936 to 1944. He was best known for writing or co-writing such successful tunes as "The Hut-Sut Song", "Hi, Neighbor", "How Soon", "The Hukilau Song", and "I'll Weave a Lei of Stars for You". He either wrote, co-wrote, composed, recorded, or some combination of these music credits, more than 50 songs spanning from the mid-1930s to the early 1960s.
He also had his own TV show, The Jack Owens Show (aka The Brunch Bunch), during the pioneer days of TV of the early 1950s and even received two Emmy nominations.
Though his songs have been covered by numerous well-known artists — Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, Bing Crosby, Freddy Martin, Merry Macs, Andy Williams, Perry Como, Dinah Shore, Woody Herman, Vaughn Monroe, Glenn Miller Orchestra, Kay Kyser Orchestra, Sammy Kaye Orchestra, Nat "King" Cole, Orrin Tucker, Spike Jones, Pat Boone, Ferlin Husky, The Platters, The Cadets / The Jacks (of "Why Don't You Write Me" fame), Alfred Apaka, Don Ho and Frank Sinatra — they have not always been correctly credited to him, have lacked adequate information about him, or have been misattributed to blues singer Jack Owens.
Jack Owens retired from show business in 1957 and worked in real estate in Phoenix. Although he co-wrote "Back In Aloha Land" in 1963, and he co-wrote "I'm The Only One That Wants Me" in 1965, the pop era of music he once embraced and sang had gone by the wayside, falling in the shadows of rock and roll and the Beatles.
He served as honorary mayor of Pacific Palisades, California from 1955 to 1957. He appeared in a Mae West movie, The Heat's On. His music publishing company, Owens-Kemp Music Co. was located in Hollywood where the present day Walk of Fame is located. He was also the uncle of Roger Owens, the famed peanut vendor at Dodger Stadium.
Birth and Death Data: Born October 17, 1912 (Tulsa), Died January 26, 1982 (Phoenix)
Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1940 - 1953
Roles Represented in DAHR: vocalist, songwriter, composer, lyricist
= Recordings are available for online listening.
= Recordings were issued from this master. No recordings issued from other masters.
Recordings (Results 1-25 of 51 records)
|Company||Matrix No.||Size||First Recording Date||Title||Primary Performer||Description||Role||Audio|
|Victor||PBS-055188||10-in.||12/2/1940||Whispers in the night||Artie Shaw Orchestra ; Anita Boyer||Jazz/dance band, with female vocal solo||songwriter|
|Victor||PBS-061198||10-in.||4/24/1941||The hut-sut song (A Swedish serenade)||Freddy Martin Orchestra ; Eddie Stone||Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo||songwriter|
|Victor||PBS-061303||10-in.||6/16/1941||You'll never remember||Freddy Martin Orchestra ; Jack Owens||Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo||composer, vocalist|
|Victor||PBS-061548||10-in.||8/25/1941||By-u by-o (The Lou'siana lullaby)||Freddy Martin Orchestra ; Clyde Rogers||Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo and vocal quartet||songwriter|
|Victor||BS-063843||10-in.||5/2/1941||The hut-sut song (A Swedish serenade)||Four King Sisters ; Alvino Rey ; Rhythm Reys||Female vocal quartet, with jazz/dance band||songwriter|
|Victor||BS-064363||10-in.||5/8/1941||The hut-sut song||Janette ; Joe Reichman Orchestra||Jazz/dance band, with female vocal solo||songwriter|
|Victor||BS-066969||10-in.||7/23/1941||Hi neighbor||Ray Kellogg ; Sonny Dunham Orchestra||Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo||composer, lyricist|
|Victor||BS-066977||10-in.||7/24/1941||Are you faithful?||Dawn Patrol Boys ; Dolly Dawn||Female vocal solo, with jazz/dance band||songwriter|
|Victor||D7VB-1654||10-in.||9/28/1947||How soon? (Will I be seeing you)||Vaughn Monroe ; Moon Maids ; Vaughn Monroe's Orchestra||Male vocal solo, with female vocal quintet and jazz/dance band||lyricist|
|Victor||D7VB-2154||10-in.||12/3/1947||The kid with the rip in his pants||Billy Hill Orchestra ; Roy Rogers||Male vocal solo, with string band||composer|
|Decca||75088||7/26/1949||A dime a dozen||Jack Owens||vocalist|
|Decca||75089||7/26/1949||Jealous heart||Jack Owens||vocalist|
|Decca||75090||7/26/1949||You're the only one I care for||Jack Owens||vocalist|
|Decca||75091||7/26/1949||I wish I had a record||Jack Owens||vocalist|
|Decca||75671||1/6/1950||You're a sweetheart||Jack Owens||vocalist|
|Decca||75672||1/6/1950||Half a heart is all you left me||Jack Owens||vocalist|
|Decca||75673||1/6/1950||Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday||Jack Owens||vocalist|
|Decca||75674||1/6/1950||Cross your heart||Jack Owens||vocalist|
|Decca||75740||1/24/1950||Abide with me||Jack Owens||vocalist|
|Decca||75741||1/24/1950||Where He leads me||Jack Owens||vocalist|
|Decca||75742||1/24/1950||Still, still with Thee||Jack Owens||vocalist|
|Decca||75747||1/25/1950||My faith looks up to Thee||Jack Owens||vocalist|
|Decca||75748||1/25/1950||My Jesus, I love Thee||Jack Owens||vocalist|
|Decca||75749||1/25/1950||In the garden||Jack Owens||vocalist|
|Decca||75750||1/25/1950||Have Thine own way, Lord||Jack Owens||vocalist|
Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Owens, Jack," accessed October 2, 2023, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/100348.
Owens, Jack. (2023). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved October 2, 2023, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/100348.
"Owens, Jack." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2023. Web. 2 October 2023.
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