EXCLUSIVE: HK singer Jacky Cheung on embarking another world tour in his 60s and why he calls himself a ‘lonely old man’

Jacky Cheung is known for his large-scale concert tours. Photos: Handout

“It felt like I was a jobless person,” Jacky Cheung lamented about staying at home for almost two years due to the pandemic.

Cheung, who is fond of going on tours to perform for his legion of fans, had to put his career on hold between 2020 and 2022.

“I didn’t know how to do anything at home. I couldn’t even operate the washing machine, although I know it is just a press of a button,” Cheung sighed.

We are seated in a small room at The Parisian Hotel in Macau for a casual chat. Cheung seems relaxed and is all smiles.

Just an hour earlier, a jubilant Cheung announced at a press conference – with over 100 regional media in attendance – that he’s embarking on his first tour since the pandemic.

Titled Jacky Cheung 60+ Concert Tour, the show is set to kick off in Macau on June 9, where he will stage 12 shows at The Cotai Arena, in The Venetian Hotel.

When asked if he would be bringing his tour to Malaysia, Cheung said yes though he didn’t divulge when it would be held, as arrangements were still being finalised.

But it will be soon, he teased.

Unusual Entertainment, the company that is organising Cheung’s upcoming shows in Malaysia, recently announced that the singer is set to perform six shows in Singapore – July 14 to 16 and 21 to 23.

The artiste will turn 62 in July.The artiste will turn 62 in July.

Naturally, the perfectionist has concerns since this will be his first concert in four years.

“The first show is always the most worrying one because there are many uncertainties – if I’m physically fit enough, for example,” he said, adding that he has started rehearsing.

“For choreography, we will not be reducing the number of dances. It’s just that I will be dancing less... I’ll only dance when it is required,” the 61-year-old added.

The singer said that some of his protective fans have voiced out concerns that he shouldn’t push himself too hard by dancing so much on stage.

“To be honest, I don’t find it troublesome. In fact, I’m quite happy to do it.Cheung unveiling the official visual for his upcoming tour at the press conference in Macau. Cheung unveiling the official visual for his upcoming tour at the press conference in Macau.

“Even though I will be dancing less this time, I will improvise a few things on my end to give audience a fresh concert experience,” he promised.

60+ marks Cheung’s 10th tour in a career that has spanned close to four decades.

The Hong Kong singer added that he feels blessed to be able to hold a concert at this stage in his career.

“It’s not something that many people have the chance to do these days. So, I’m really grateful for the 60+ tour.”

Cheung is known for his large-scale concert tours – in 1995, he performed 100 shows; in 2007, he held 105 concerts; while in 2010, it was 147.

In his last world tour called A Classic Tour – where he performed six sold-out shows in Malaysia in January as well as October 2018 – Cheung put on a total of 233 shows in 97 cities over a period of 27 months.

He even “helped” nab a few criminals after they were spotted at his shows in China and apprehended by the authority. It earned Cheung the nickname “Fugitive Bait”. Even hardened criminals can’t resist a good Jacky Cheung show.

Post-pandemic projects

Initially, Cheung said he planned on starring in a Broadway-style musical as a post-pandemic project.

“But the script wasn’t ready. So, the next best thing is a concert,” said Cheung who received rave reviews when he starred in the critically acclaimed Cantonese musical Snow. Wolf. Lake in 1997.

He also kept himself busy by accepting a starring role opposite Nicholas Tse in the action flick Customs Frontline, which was shot in 2022 and will be released later this year.

This marks Cheung’s return to the silver screen; his last outing was in the 2016 films From Vegas To Macau III and Heaven In The Dark. Even though he enjoys acting, Cheung said singing remains his No.1 passion.

“It’s not that I don’t know how to act as I have worked on film projects in the past. It’s just that I prioritise my singing more.

“I always work hard to improve my vocals because I’m a firm believer that you will do well as long as you put your heart into it,” the affable artiste said.

Cheung's Snow.Wolf.Lake musical was a roaring success. The singer says he has plans to stage a new musical in the near future. Photo: FilepicCheung's Snow.Wolf.Lake musical was a roaring success. The singer says he has plans to stage a new musical in the near future. Photo: Filepic

Squeaky clean image

Cheung started his music career in 1984 when he won a singing competition where he beat 10,000 contestants.

He was signed to a record label and released his debut album, Smile, a year later.

However, he remained pessimistic as he held on to his full-time job as a reservation officer at Cathay Pacific airline because he wasn’t sure he had what it took to make it as a singer.

“When I started singing, I was not sure if I could make ends meet. It was only when my first record came out, and there were so many people who liked to hear me sing, that I dared to resign,” he was quoted saying in an interview.

That should be the least of his worries as his baritone voice won over fans in Hong Kong as well as other parts of Asia.

Cheung, together with Andy Lau, Aaron Kwok and Leon Lai, were dubbed The Four Heavenly Kings and they ruled Canto-pop in the 1990s.

The ever self-deprecating Cheung once said he considered himself the “worst” compared to his peers when he debuted.

“I was probably the ‘worst’ among the newcomers of that generation – other than having singing talent, I lacked everything else... Perhaps it’s because I didn’t have the looks, so people were forced to pay attention to my singing,” he said in a 2013 interview.

“Because I’m not good-looking, so even ‘rumours’ don’t want to come near me!” he said jokingly when asked how he maintained a squeaky clean image in Hong Kong’s paparazzi culture.

Later, fans started calling him “God Of Songs”, a title the humble singer wasn’t comfortable with.

“In the beginning, when people started calling me ‘God Of Songs’, I was really repelled by it and didn’t want to hear it. Later on, I got used to it.

“For me, as long as I keep a clear mind and don’t think of myself as such, then it’s fine,” he said.

Cheung at his Jacky Cheung 1/2 Century Tour concert in Malaysia in 2011. Photo: Filepic Cheung at his Jacky Cheung 1/2 Century Tour concert in Malaysia in 2011. Photo: Filepic

Ageing gracefully

At the press conference in Macau, Cheung unveiled the official visual for the Jacky Cheung 60+ Concert Tour, which shows the 176m-tall singer in a white double-breasted jacket with a bow tie, sporting some grey on his stubble.

He commented on the photo: “I am not afraid to grow old. With this photo, I was hoping to capture a dapper side. I hope to be like George Clooney.

“If I am still performing at the age of 70, I want to look back at this photo and think to myself, ‘I did look stylish in my 60s’.”

He did look stylish at our 25-minute chat, attired in a white shirt, black pants, gold embroidered black jacket and a black pair of boots.

The trim singer said that he eats only two meals a day – brunch and an early dinner.

“I have my dinner around 5pm,” he said.

Cheung has been given the nicknames 'Heavenly King', 'God Of Songs' and 'Fugitive Bait', the last one for his hand in nabbing wanted criminals at his shows in China. Cheung has been given the nicknames 'Heavenly King', 'God Of Songs' and 'Fugitive Bait', the last one for his hand in nabbing wanted criminals at his shows in China.This timing works for him on days of his shows as it will not interfere with his performance.

“In Cantonese, there’s a saying ‘singing with hunger’. Singing requires great lung capacity. If you eat too full, your singing won’t be great.

“I heard that Alan Tam keeps his stomach empty before a show. I find (my vocals) to be more powerful when I do that (too),” he explained.

Cheung said that he and his management thought of many ideas before deciding on naming the upcoming tour 60+.

“We came up with over 80 names for the tour but in the end, I settled with this simply because it reflects my age as well as the year that I was born,” said Cheung who turns 62 in July.

The topic of age and growing old is something on Cheung’s mind of late, as he brings them up in conversations and finds meaning about them in songs.

In his latest Mandarin single, Another Ten Years, he sings about how fast times flies.

The ballad – his first Mandarin track in nine years – is penned by Malaysian composers Jack Loo and Chet Ng, with lyrics written by another Malaysian, Al Guan.

Cheung said that he was drawn to the song as it reminded him of the good old days.“The lyrics made me think of the past, such as drinking and meeting friends. There are fewer of such occasions now.

“When I realise how the past is something that I can never get back again, it makes me feel a little helpless and sad,” he lamented in an earlier interview.

At our Macau chat, he echoed the same sentiment.

“I don’t meet friends much these days. I am a lonely old man, I stay home a lot,” he told StarLifestyle in English.

Happy wife, happy life

Cheung is married to May Lo, a popular Hong Kong actress in the 1980s. The couple, who married in 1996, have two daughters Zoe, 23, and Zia, 18.

Now that his daughters have grown up, Cheung said he has more time to do what he wants, such as touring, without feeling too guilty being away from his family for so long.

“It is human nature. You miss home when you (travel and) work a lot. But when you stay at home too much, you begin to miss work. I love my family, and I also love my job. So, you need to learn to compromise.

“But my girls are all grown up. I can’t even call them girls anymore, they are women now. They have their own lives... So, I have more time to do what I want to do.

“(Now) I just have to take care of my wife’s feelings a bit more,” he said, smiling.

With more free time on his hand, Cheung is fully focused on his 10th tour.

Physically, he said, he is training (“We’ll see how it goes the next two months before the first show”).

But, mentally, Cheung is prepared for it.

“When you are on stage, it is not just about your physical fitness, sometimes it also depends if you’re mentally ready for it. One hundred shows, 200 shows...

“I describe myself as a mental singer, so I don’t have any doubts about my mental preparation for my shows because I know I am ready.

”Looks like the God Of Song is raring to go for another round of shows. Are you?

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