A familiar face roams the halls of St. Barnabas Retirement Village, one that many of the residents know by name. Well, one of his names, anyways.
It’s Jack Hunt, an admissions counselor with St. Barnabas, but it’s also Johnny Angel, well-known entertainer. And while some of the folks may know both of Jack/Johnny’s names, they may not know of yet another identify that he assumes, that of Jackie Angel.
It’s enough to confuse the best of us.
“It can be hard to keep them straight, but each has his own specialty,” said Hunt from his Richland Township office at St. Barnabas.
His legal name is John “Jack” Hunt Jr., but Hunt is probably best known as Johnny Angel of Johnny Angel and the Halos fame. Hunt and his group have been performing rock and roll for more than 30 years now.
Jackie Angel is a newer version who comes out when Hunt is performing big band music with The Joe Lagnese Orchestra.
“I joke that he is Johnny’s twin. I wanted fans to know what kind of music they were going to be listening to when they came to hear me. If they come to a Jackie Angel show, they aren’t going to be hearing rock 'n' roll,” he said.
Hunt has loved music for as long as he can remember.
“I started singing in the church choir when I was about five,” he said. When he was growing up in the 1950s, Hunt’s parents signed him up for accordion lessons. He didn’t like it.
He was able to convince them to let him switch to the trumpet. Without them knowing, he took drum lessons at school.
“They found out at parent-teachers night. I think they kind of gave up at that point and let me play,” he said. Hunt became a fairly accomplished drummer and soon formed a band with a few friends. The rest, as they say, is history.
“One night our lead guy was sick so I moved out from behind the drums and up front. After that, they couldn’t get me to go back,” he joked.
While music is a still a key focus in Hunt’s life, there are other aspects as well. Married to Mary Lou for 37 years, Hunt has two children, Rachael, 34, and Justin, 31.
“I also have five grandchildren and I love it!” he said.
Hunt also works with his wife and son.
“Mary Lou is my booking agent, and my son is my sound engineer,” he said.
But it isn’t just his music and family that keep him busy. Hunt is also a partner in a company that owns seven restaurants, including the local Atria’s. As if that wasn’t enough, he recently started hosting an “Oldies” show on WJAS 1320 AM on Sunday nights.
“I love it all,” he said.
Oh, and did we mention his day job?
Hunt is an admissions counselor at St. Barnabas Retirement Village, a job he said he also loves. After he retired from a full-time job as a sales and marketing representative with Bell Atlantic, he decided to look for a position at a place he knew well.
“I had volunteered with the Pennies for Patients program and really just have a soft spot in my heart for the seniors,” said Hunt, who has worked at St. Barnabas for almost a year. “So many people who have meant so much to me are older now and this is a way to sort of honor them.”
He is also a favorite with them. His friend and colleague, St. Barnabas Public Relations Director Kathleen Brenneman, told of when she and Hunt were chatting at an event at St. Barnabas.
“I turned around and there was a line of ladies waiting to dance with him. They wanted me out of the way,” she joked.
Although his schedule would exhaust many, Hunt thrives on it.
“I love everything I do. I get to spend time with the seniors, spend time with my family and I get to play my music. It is great.”
Jackie Angel's “Swingin' with an Angel” show with the Joe Lagnese Orchestra will be performed Saturday, March 12, at the Kean Theatre. Visit www.keantheatre.com for more information.