John Milton "Jack" 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. Other interesting things about Jack Owens include:
Birth and Death Data: Born October 17th, 1912 (Tulsa), Died January 26th, 1982 (Phoenix)
Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1940 - 1953
Roles Represented in DAHR: vocalist, songwriter
Recordings (Results 1-25 of 43 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||BS-064363||10-in.||5/8/1941||The hut-sut song||Janette ; Joe Reichman Orchestra||Jazz/dance band, with female vocal solo||songwriter|
|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|
|Decca||75751||1/25/1950||Savior, again to Thy dear name||Jack Owens||vocalist|
|Decca||75758||1/26/1950||Did anyone ever tell you, Mrs. Murphy||Jack Owens||vocalist|
|Decca||75759||1/26/1950||You're Irish and you're beautiful||Jack Owens||vocalist|
|Decca||76028||3/28/1950||How soon? (Will I be seeing you)||Jack Owens||vocalist|
|Decca||76029||3/28/1950||My darling||Jack Owens||vocalist|
|Decca||76030||3/28/1950||I'd love to live in Loveland||Jack Owens||vocalist|
|Decca||76031||3/28/1950||Moonlight and roses||Jack Owens||vocalist|
|Decca||76032||3/28/1950||Oh, how I miss you tonight||Jack Owens||vocalist|
Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Owens, Jack," accessed October 21, 2020, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/100348.
Owens, Jack. (2020). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved October 21, 2020, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/100348.
"Owens, Jack." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2020. Web. 21 October 2020.
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