Introduction to Howard Jones – An 80’s Pop Icon


Born in Southhampton on February 23, 1995, Howard Jones is a British singer and songwriter. He was once described as one of the defining figures in the synth pop music scene of the mid-80’s because of his forty hit singles in the UK in just the span of three years, six of those songs reached the top ten charts. Globally, Howard Jones had fifteen top 40 hit singles during 1983 to 1992.

Hit Songs

Throughout his music career, Howard Jones was able to produce several hit singles such as

  • No One Is To Blame
  • Things Can Only Get Better
  • What Is Love
  • Everlasting Love
  • New Song
  • Pearl In The Shell
  • Life in One Day
  • Like To Get To Know You Well
  • Look Mama
  • Hide and Seek

Early Life

Born John Howard Jones, he was the eldest among four boys and all of his brothers were also musicians in their own right. Back in the late 70’s they had a band called the Red Beat. Howard Jones attended the Heol Llanishen Fach primary school and Whitchurch Grammar School. He learned how to play the piano at the age of seven. When he was a teenager, his family moved in Canada where he formed his first progressive rock band named Warriors.

Howard Jones decided to return back to UK and where he attended the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester but during that time he was still playing with various bands. It was in the late 1980’s where Jones met a Buddhist practitioner named Bill Bryant who became one of Jones songwriter and major influence. Jones later practiced Nichiren Buddhist and became a member of a worldwide Buddhist association named Soka Gakkai International. Jones stated in 1991 that the Buddhist practice have a profoundly positive effect on his life.

Early Career

Howard Jones played as a solo artist in local venues in High Wycombe before he met a mime artist named Jed Hoile to perform with him. Jones was really persistent on what he wants to happen with his career that’s why in 1983 he decided to hire the Marquee Club in London where he invited different record labels to come and see him perform. His success came after he had a session at BBC Radio 1 where he obtained slots with China Crisis and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark.

Major Label Career

Howard Jones first became known in the contemporary music scene in 1983 when he released his hit single entitled “New Song” which reached the US Top 30 and the UK Top 5. He also made his BBC debut performance on the show Top of the Pops. After his successful single, he released four more hits during 1983. That’s when he decided his album entitled “Human’s Lib”  that became number 1 in UK and eventually became a double platinum album. He credited his mentor and songwriter Bill Bryant on writing six songs on his album. “New Song” “Pearl in the Shell” and “What is Love” are some of the songs that did well in 1983 to 1984. His first album also achieved international success reaching gold and platinum in several countries. Jones then developed a fans club that was ran by his parents.

In 1984, he released a single that he dedicated for the original spirit of the Olympic Games, and it is entitled “ Like to Get to Know You Well”. Although it did not became the official Olympic anthem, it still reached the number 4 spot in the UK Singles Chart and garnered worldwide success. Howard Jones released the song  title in ten different languages and sang the French and German song titles. The same song was also featured in the 1985 film “Better Off Dead.”

The following year, Howard Jones released his second studio album entitled “Dream into Action” which featured the back-up work of the trio Afrodiziak. In this album,  Jones also worked with his brother Martin as the bassist. He collaborated with Phil Collins on one of the single he released from this album entitled “No One is to Blame” where Collins was the producer, drummer and back up vocals. The second version of the song was included in Jones’ most successful album “One Dream, One Action.” It became a worldwide success that reached number 2 in the UK and number 10 in the US. It featured his singles “Life in One Day”, “Look Mama”, and “Things Can Only Get Better.”

In 1886, Jones released his EP album “Action Replay” which included remix version of “No One is to Blame” which was Jones’ biggest US hit. He then released his single “All I Want” which peaked at number 35 at the UK Top 40. In 1986, Jones released his album entitled “One to One” that peaked at number 10 in the UK charts and went gold. But Jones’s fortune turned because “One to One” was his last UK hit album.

In June 1988, Jones released his albums  “Cross That Line” and “In The Running” which both performed poorly in the UK. But despite of this, some of his songs like “Everlasting Love” and “The Prisoner” charted in the US. But Howard Jones still continued to play in large venues in the US.  When his ten year contract with Warner Music ended, Jones’ released a greatest hits compilation album in 1993.

Independent Recording and Recent Activities

When his contract with Warner Music Group ended, Jones focused on songwriting, producing songs and even running a restaurant. He formed a record label named Dtox and he released several albums under his own label. One album was “Working in the Backroom” which sold over 20,000 copies and was only available for purchase at concerts and through his official website.

In 2006, Howard Jones released a podsafe track entitled “Building Our Own Future” which debuted at number 1 on the PMS top 10 and spent four weeks at the chart.

Jones is still an active member of Soka Gakkai international and is serving as their musical director of one of its choirs. And he is currently a member of the board of directors for the Featured Artists Coalition. Jones currently lives in Creech St. Michael and is a vegetarian.

Howard Jones was indeed an 80’s pop icon. He created music that made the 80’s music scene more memorable. Which Howard Jones song is your favorite?

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