I'm a '50s guy. My first hit was in '57. I started singing after I lost the ability to
play baseball. I played professionally for the New York Yankees for almost five years, and
apart from baseball, singing was the only thing I could do.
The fifties were the best --Elvis (whom I went to high school with), Marilyn, Jimmy
Dean... When The Beatles came, everything changed. Everywhere I went in the States, people
told me the same thing --the '50s are dead! I told them the '50s were NOT dead, that
somewhere in the world, the '50s still lived. My producer Pat Boone, himself an oldies'
legend, who is from Tennessee like me, brought me into his office one day and said to me,
"Jimmy, we're going to take you back to where you belong. To the place where the '50s
still live." I said, "Where is that, sir?" And he said, "Japan."
I was concerned that I didn't know any Japanese, but it wasn't an issue for him. He
just told me to "do what I do" --the only thing I know how to do: sing. He said
the Japanese are very smart people, and although they may not know English, they do know
the real thing when they hear it. So that's how I first came to Japan, in '88, with the
intention of staying for two weeks. I ended up staying a year and a half that time, and
soon came back for good. I was performing four nights a week, and it wasn't long before
Polydor signed me up. I've sung at Tokyo Dome and too many other joints to mention.
I think Japan is the greatest place on earth. America right now is very crazy --too
many guns and too many drugs. In Japan, it's all about teamwork, which I really like and
respect. I also think Japanese girls are ichiban (number one)! In fact, I just finished
writing a song called "Japanese Girls Are Ichiban"! They're so cute and bouncy,
and I love the way they talk, walk and dress. They dress the way girls should dress. I
love to watch them bouncing about from the window of Johnny Rockets, my favorite hangout
in Tokyo. (They only play oldies' music --no Aerosmith, no rap...none of that stuff!) At
the age of 62, seeing girls like that keeps you young.
I plan to stay in Japan forever. It isn't easy being a '50s singer in the States, where
I've got hip-hoppers on the left, rappers on the right, Madonnas, heavy metal guys, and
Michael Jacksons everywhere. I have to stay where I belong, and because of my commitment
to the '50s, that's Japan. To me, Japan is a paradise. It gave me back my life, and I'll
never leave it.
Jimmy sings regularly at Red Shoes (043-224-6458) and Dunhill (043-226-8448) in Chiba.
Jimmy spoke to Chang-Ran Kim tchan and Maki Nibayashi tchan
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