Jack Owens : The Cruisin' Crooner©2006JCMarion

“The Breakfast Club” was an institution on radio starting in the depths of the depression and remaining on the air until the last days of network programming in 1968. Hosted by Don McNeil and originally called “The Pepper Pot”, through the years was home to many performers who attained fame in later years (Johnny Desmond, Fran Allison, Janette Davis, to name three). Another performer from the days during the early years of the show was vocalist Jack Owens. Owens replaced vocalist Dick Teela in 1934 and remained for a number of years. After the war he found some success as a popular music vocalist first for the independent label Tower Records, and later with Decca the international giant of the recording industry.

His recording of “How Soon (Will I Be Seeing You)” done with the orchestra of Eddy Ballantyne’s Orchestra on Tower # 1258 was a surprise hit record during 1947. The flip side is Cole Porter’s classic “Begin The Beguine”. The record stays for an incredible five months on the best seller lists and is kept out of the number one spot by Francis Craig’s “Near You” and Vaughn Monroe’s “Ballerina” during the fall of the year. His version results in cover records by Bing Croaby and Dinah Shore. Owens is now called the “Cruisin’ Crooner” as his Tower record is one of the top sellers for an independent label in recent years. In an attempt to follow up this huge hit, Owens records “Put Your Little Head On My Shoulder” and “I’m All Dressed Up With A Broken Heart” for Tower. The results this time are not the big seller that Owens had hoped for and he records once more for Tower. Two Hawaiian themed songs are “The Hukilau Song” and “I’ll Weave A Lei Of Stars For You” (a hit for Alfred Apaka) on # 1436. On the strength of his showing for Tower, Owens is signed to Decca Records the biggest major of them all.

It took two years, but Jack Owens makes it back to the hit parade in October of 1949 with his recording of “Jealous Heart” with “A Dime A Dozen” on the flip side. The record for Decca on # 24711 is a solid hit that remains on the charts for three months and gets into the top ten best sellers. He follows that effort in short time with Decca # 24712 on the song “You’re The Only One I Care For”, a top twenty tune in early 1950. “Half A Heart Is All You Left Me” and “Monday Tuesday And Wednesday” are released on # 24874 but does not chart. In the spring of the year Owens records the old pop standard “You’re A Sweetheart” on Decca # 24935 and it is a top twenty seller in the country. Owens has recorded the last few songs on Decca with the orchestra of Danny Mendelsohn, but for “Sweetheart” the band of Sy Oliver and the singing group Three Beaus & A Peep are brought in. Two tunes that seem set for St. Patrick’s Day – “You’re Irish And You’re Beautiful” and “Did Anyone Ever Tell You Mrs. Murphy” on # 24993. In September Owens records another pop favorite, “Dream A Little Dream Of Me” for Decca on # 27096. It is the last time on the charts for the singer, but it is a solid hit. It turns out to be a top fifteen seller and stays on the best seller charts for three months.

Jack Owens records “Pines Grow Green In The Valley” on # 27628, and “Think” on # 28954, but neither record does much in sales or airplay during 1951. He then changes up and records some sacred music for Decca backed up with The Vesper Singers. “Have Thine Own Way, Lord” and “My Jesus I Love Thee” is released on Decca # 14504, and “Where He Leads Me” and “My Faith Looks Up To Thee” is issued on # 14541.

Jack Owens was a musical presence on the radio and records for many years. He is mostly forgotten now, but in the late nineteen forties the “Cruisin’ Crooner” found his niche and had some good selling American pop records to go with his history as part of the long running “Breakfast Club” radio program.

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