Music legend Michael Bolton recently zipped into town to promote his Asian Dream Tour. And, at the press con for his upcoming gig, the 64-year-old crooner didn’t forget to pay tribute to what viral video ‘Jack Sparrow’ did for his career — by belting out a few notes from the comical track. His portrayal of the suave Captain Jack Sparrow in the 2011 hit not only sparked a career resurgence for the American pop veteran, but also made people see him in a whole new sexy light and opened doors for him in the film and TV industry. No wonder Michael called it “the gift that keeps on giving”.
So it was that this February, Netflix decided to cast the 64-year-old crooner in a TV show called Michael Bolton’s Big, Sexy Valentine’s Day Special, where he hosted a telethon to put people in the mood for love so 75,000 babies can be conceived by Valentine’s Day. All so that Santa Claus can clear his toy supply by Christmas. And, of course, the show that features song and dance, included some of his baby-making hits. But how does the crooner feel about people getting down and dirty to his love ballads… for real?
8 DAYS: You’ll be performing here as part of your Asian Dream Tour, which showcases young talents. What was it like in your early years as a singer?
MICHAEL BOLTON: All of it was a learning experience, although I didn’t know until I looked back years later and I was like, “Wow, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing.” I’m glad I had talented people around me. When I look back, I find it amazing that I was even able to get through that experience. A lot of my friends had record deals. But within a year, the deal was over and they gave up ’cos it was too hard to take care of their families and try to make a career out of music. It was hard ’cos we had rent cheques bouncing and landlords talking about eviction. We didn’t use the term ‘homelessness’. But a lot of musicians are near homelessness. It’s a tough career. Sometimes, we go through a long, dry spell with no success. I’ve made many records that companies spent a lot of money on, but they didn’t make any back. Looking back at a lot of my earlier albums, they were just me learning more about my own art form ’cos it’s expensive to record in the studio. It’s not like sports, where you can run out onto the field and play with your friends and get better at it. In the music business, none of us could afford to go into the recording studio and learn the craft of recording records. We did that by having success. And mine eventually came — 18 years after I started.
You’ve been famous for a long time but it seems the younger generation only know you ’cos of The Lonely Island’s viral ‘Jack Sparrow’ 2011 video.
That video had a tremendous following from 12 to 40-year-olds, both male and female. I’ve never had that kind of size of following. But it’s still important for me to perform to my core audience — people who have [heard] every hit I ever wrote or recorded since 1987. They want to hear the hits, which is why I still bring the greatest hits to every concert tour, over and over again.
In your recent TV show, Michael Bolton’s Big, Sexy Valentine’s Day Special, you hosted a telethon to get people to make love and conceive 75,000 babies by Valentine’s Day so that Santa Claus can clear his toy supply by Christmas. When it comes to making babies, does it unsettle you that people get um, down to your music?
It was unsettling when I first found out about it. 30 years ago, I was doing an interview in Sunset Marquis Hotel in Los Angeles and the female journalist asked, “How do you feel knowing that people are conceiving children to your music?” I was like, “What? Oh. I never thought of that.” It was the first time someone asked me that question and I was taken aback. But, after that, there were other women who confirmed that they conceived their children to my albums. (Laughs) Then, I found it funny. But it was also a little unsettling. It’s enough to know that my music helped people through a tough time, or that people got married to my music. But I don’t need the visual of people conceiving children to my music in my head.
Catch Michael Bolton at The Asian Dream Tour, Nov 15, 8pm at The Star Performing Arts Centre. Tix from Sistic.
MAIN PHOTO: CHEE YAN