Michael Bolton has the last laugh

Michael Bolton

Michael Bolton

Michael Bolton

When: 8 p.m. Thursday

Where: Philharmonic Center for the Arts, 5833 Pelican Bay Boulevard

Admission: Sold out

Information: 597-1900 or www.thephil.org

It’s a blessing and a curse to be ubiquitous.

For Michael Bolton, being a household name has meant a great deal of success — 53 million albums sold, two Grammys, six American Music Awards, a star on Hollywood Walk of Fame.

It’s also meant being the butt of jokes — about his hair and the quality of some of his biggest hits.

But Bolton is having the last laugh. He’s now on tour to celebrate his 25th year in the industry — an enviable longevity in a business that treats most acts as disposable.

He’ll be in Naples on Thursday for a sold-out show at the Philharmonic Center for the Arts. He talked to the Daily News about his Naples stop, singing classical music and introducing himself to a new generation of fans.

Daily News: What are you most excited about with regard to this particular tour and coming to Naples?

Michael Bolton: The Naples show is one of the first shows that started selling like crazy, and ticket sales went so well, as an afterthought we could have added one or two more shows. I’ve been touring for 25 years and I’m thrilled that the fans have so quickly responded. Also, my golf clubs are coming with me, so there is a good chance that the clubs will make it out of the belly of the bus and into my room for a round of golf.

DN: It’s rumored that you’ve come to love performing classical music. What was your first experience singing a classical song?

Bolton: My experience with performing classical music began with “Nessun Dorma” when I was invited to sing with Luciano Pavarotti. It was an out-of-the-blue, exciting, terrifying, great honor and great challenge. Performing classical music has given me a stronger, clearer voice as a result of studying Pavarotti’s music in preparation for singing with him.

DN: Your audience continues to grow with new generations. What do you have to say to these new young faces in your audiences?

Bolton: I’m seeing a number of surprisingly young folks who have somehow been exposed to my music. Composers have written songs that have outlived them and in the Great American Songbook, these songs have been recorded by every major artist from Billy Holiday all the way to the Three Tenors. The energy that happens on our stage, which goes from R&B to rock to blues to classical, is a bit of an education for a new fan or for someone who hasn’t been exposed to it before.

DN: It’s tempting for successful artists to want to showcase new music in concert, but you’re known for featuring some of your greatest hits.

Bolton: This tour features primarily my greatest hits with a few surprises. I’m going to want to bring something from the latest project I’m working on, but people want to hear hits they associate with my albums that take them back in time to whatever they were going through. Music has gotten people through hard times and celebrated high points. You can’t go back in time and change anything, but that is the journey you take them on.

To only perform upcoming music and not the hits is negligent, because fans really deserve greatest hits. It’s about a relationship, staying in tune and in touch with the audience so it’s my responsibility to keep track of how the show is working from start to finish. If I take care of my instrument, which is my voice, I can hopefully, keep doing this for years to come.

DN: Do you have a favorite song from your long career performing and recording?

Bolton: “Said I Loved You But I Lied” was a very different animal for me. I wrote and produced it with Mutt Lange, a genius who was experimenting with some world sounds that weren’t similar to some of the other up-tempo hits I’d had. It’s one of my favorite songs to perform live and it’s possibly my favorite record I’ve ever recorded due to the unusual mix of spiritual and sensual elements.

I get really quiet when we start that song and I have to take myself to a completely different place when we do it.

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