Jack Barlow Dead at 87
One of country music’s most beloved jack of all trades has passed away at the age of 87.
Jack Barlow started his career singing in local clubs in his hometown of Muscatine, Iowa, upon his return from serving in the Navy in World War II. His soothing baritone caught the attention of the owner of KWPC radio, who saw Jack perform at a local Kiwanis club and then tracked him down on his parents’ farm.
“I was sitting on a tractor, and he offered me a job as a radio announcer,” the singer recalled to the Muscatine Journal in a 2008 interview. “My dad needed my help on the farm, so I asked him, ‘Whattaya think, Pop?’ and my dad said, ‘I tell you one thing, boy, nobody’s going to hear you sing on the tractor behind that hedgerow.’”
After stints at two different radio stations, Jack finally found himself on the other side of the airwaves after moving to Nashville at the age of 40 to pursue his dream. He was signed to Dial Records and quickly became a staple at the Grand Ole Opry.
Jack had several hits throughout the 1960s, including ‘I Love Country Music,’ ‘Birmingham Blues’ and ‘Catch the Wind.’ He continued to record into his golden years, releasing his final album, ‘I Live the Country Songs I Sing,’ in 2007.
The 6’4″ singer also had a few hits under the name Zoot Fenster, the biggest being 1975′s ‘I Wish I Was the Man on Page 602.’ The novelty song was inspired by the true story of an underwear model pictured in a 1970s Sears catalog. The photo showed what some argued was a bit too much of the model, but Sears insisted it was just a shadow. Jack, who did not write the song, was too embarrassed to record it under his own name. So, his buddy D.J. Fontana, a former drummer for Elvis Presley, suggested he record it under the phony name. It went on to become a Top 30 hit.
Yet another job came to Jack in the 1970s, after he sang a now iconic commercial jingle for Big Red chewing gum. That gig led to literally thousands of voiceover jobs for the singer, including ads for Budweiser and Busch beers, Chrysler, Dodge, Kraft and Kelloggs.
Jack died after battling an undisclosed illness for several years. He is survived by his wife, Dianne, seven children and several grandchildren. Music Row reports that a public memorial service will be held August 13 at 5:00 PM CT at the Harpeth Hills Memorial Garden Funeral Home in Nashville.