Tom Jones





Born Thomas Jones Woodward in Pontypridd, South Wales, Great Britain on June 7th, 1940, his father worked the coal mines of the Rhondda Valley, while his mother tended the house and the two children. Tom was singing at an early age. He sang in the church and with the choir at the Treforrest Secondary Modern School. He would ask his mother to "pull the drapes and announce me," as he sang on his "stage" in the sitting room. A more or less unsuccessful school career ended, with a wife and son to follow at age 17.

Tom brought in money for his new family from an assortment of jobs, including a builder's labourer, a glove cutter, paper miller, and door-to-door vacuum salesman. He sang in the pubs at night, working with local groups. By 1963, he had gained notoriety with his own group, Tommy Scott and the Senators, and was playing regularly in the demanding atmosphere of the working-class clubs and dance halls. Gordon Mills, a man with a solid performance background who had decided to branch into songwriting and management, went to see Tom work. As Mills recalled: "The first few bars were all I needed to hear, they convinced me that here was a voice that could make him the greatest singer in the world."

Mills became Tom's manager, and, taking advantage of the free publicity generated by a hit movie that was in theatres at the time, changed his stage name to "Tom Jones". Promoting him was not an easy task, as record companies found him disconcerting. The vocal sound was raucous and too powerful, the performance style too forward and sexual. He sounded black and moved like Presley. The two men persisted though, and in late 1964 landed a recording contract with Decca Records. The first single was not a great success, but the next choice, a new song penned by Mills called "It's Not Unusual", was a huge international hit. Considered "too hot" by the established BBC Radio at the time, it was broken by the pirate off-shore station "Radio Caroline". By the next year, Tom found himself opening for the Rolling Stones at London's Beat City and gigging with the Spencer Davis Group.

An avalanche of gold singles and albums were soon to follow: "Delilah", "Help Yourself", "Love Me Tonight", and "I'll Never Fall in Love Again". For most of the late sixties, several of his LPs were in the Top 10 Charts in both Europe and the United States. A long friendship with Elvis Presley developed by mutual respect and admiration. Elvis would warm up his voice to Delilah before his own performances, and when "Green Green Grass Of Home" hit for Tom in 1966, Elvis himself would call radio stations repeatedly to request the song.

Continuing into the 70s, gold albums came in the form of "I, Who Have Nothing", "She's A Lady" and "Tom Jones Live at Caesars Palace". By the end of 1970, Tom had sold over 30 million discs in all categories around the world.

With this tremendous recording success, Tom was able to draw capacity audiences everywhere in concert halls and arenas worldwide. His skills as a singer developed sharply; his energy, openness and spontaneity appealed to critics and audiences alike.

Tom was offered his own television show the summer of 1969. A contract was drawn with ABC that was the largest ever between network and artist. The show's location was split between London and Los Angeles, and included an impressive guest list of virtually every major star of the day.

In 1987 Tom was asked to perform a musical play with a bullfighting theme called Matador on the CBS Epic label. The single, "A Boy From Nowhere", reached #2 on the British charts that summer. This prompted insistent requests for "It's Not Unusual" in the London clubs along with a very successful re-release of the song on the charts. A new interest in Tom Jones emerged amongst a whole new generation of fans.

Late in 1988, the British avante-garde techno-pop group "The Art of Noise" requested a collaboration with Tom on a cover of Prince's "Kiss". The results were sensational and highly contemporary, and the record put Tom back into the Top 10 charts in Europe and the Top 40 in America. The video of "Kiss" was seen in strong rotation on both MTV and VH-1, winning the "Breakthrough Video" MTV Award that year. Tom Jones was once again seen in a format reaching across all demographics worldwide.

1992 was an exciting year for Tom. His new six-part television series, Tom Jones: The Right Time, produced for the national independent ITV network in the UK, aired in the summer to wide critical and commercial appeal. The six half-hour segments were music-based and designed in a way unique to television formats. Guest artists included: The Chieftains, Joe Cocker, EMF, Erasure, Bob Geldof, David Gilmore, Daryl Hall, Al Jarreau, Cyndi Lauper, Lyle Lovett, Mica Paris, Sam Moore, Shakespears Sister, Curtis Steiger and Stevie Wonder. The series aired in the U.S. on VH-1.

In November 1992, Tom appeared as himself on the animated hit comedy show The Simpsons. As Marge temporarily finds work at the plant, her boss kidnaps Tom in a plot to seduce her. In the end, Homer makes a chivalrous stand for his wife, and Tom serenades the two of them with "It's Not Unusual".

Shortly after some promotional efforts in support of The Right Time, Tom was invited by Sting and Trudie Styler to participate in an annual show at Carnegie Hall to benefit their charity, the Rainforest Foundation. In an evening of extraordinary performances, he shared the bill with James Taylor, George Michael, Sting, Bryan Adams, Herb Alpert, and Tina Turner. Tom was the surprise sensation of the evening, ripping through several songs with Sting and his band.

Tom enjoyed a consistent US and international touring schedule throughout the decade. He lived with his wife of 38 years, Melinda, in their homes in Bel Air, CA and South Wales. His son Mark, and daughter-in-law Donna, have given him a grandson, Alexander John, born in 1983, and a grand-daughter Emma Violet, born in 1987. His mother and sister also lived in Los Angeles. Since September of 1986 when Gordon Mills suffered an untimely death, Tom was managed by his son Mark Woodward, who traveled with him since the age of 17.

On March 29th, 2006, 65 year old Tom Jones was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II. In a statement to the press, he said "When you first come into show business and you get a hit record, it is the start of something. As time goes on, it just gets better. This is the best thing that I have had. It is a wonderful feeling, a heady feeling."

On July 1st, 2007, Jones was among the invited artists who performed at Wembley Stadium at the Concert for Diana. In 2008 he released "24 Hours" on S-Curve Records, his first album of new material to be issued in the US for over 15 years. The LP was supported by a world tour. Later that year, Jones was inducted into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame.

In 2009, the 69-year-old Jones was voted "Sexiest Man In The World" in the Hungarian magazine Periodika. In March of that year, Tom went to the top of the UK Music Charts for the third time in his career thanks to a cover of "Islands in the Stream", accompanied by Rob Brydon, Ruth Jones and Robin Gibb, who co-wrote the song with his Bee Gees brothers Barry and Maurice.

July 26th, 2010 brought his 39th studio album, "Praise & Blame", which was made up of largely little known Devotional and Gospel covers. The collection brought favorable reviews, with one critic calling it "one of the best" in Jonesí six decade long career. It debuted at #2 on the UK album chart. On Jones' 70th birthday, June 7th, 2010, a cover of the John Lee Hooker classic called "Burning Hell" was released. Instead of becoming yet another success, David Sharp, vice-president of Island Records demanded that the single be pulled back immediately and asked if it was some kind of "a sick joke." Jones responded that he was furious with the decision. In July of that year, Tom performed the song on an episode of the British talk show Friday Night with Jonathan Ross. On September 22nd, Jones appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman at the Ed Sullivan Theatre in New York and told David that he had decided to quit dying his hair and would let it grow a silver color "because itís more distinguished." On December 22nd, 2010, one of the songs from Tom's 2008 album, "24 Hours" called "Give a Little Love", was featured in the trailer for the Robert De Niro / Ben Stiller film Little Fockers.

In May, 2011 Jones sang as guest vocalist on Hugh Laurie's debut album "Let Them Talk". On May 25th, he appeared on US TV's American Idol after a medley of his hits was performed by the show's Top 13 contestants. On November 28th of that same year, Jones was introduced as one of the judges on upcoming British talent show, The Voice UK.

In February, 2012 it was announced that Tom Jones' latest single would be sold exclusively at Spillers Records in Cardiff, Wales. The shop, from which Jones bought records as a schoolboy in the fifties and early sixties, was established in 1894 and is listed in the Guinness World Records as the oldest record shop in the world.

CLASSIC TRIVIA:
The lead guitarist on Tom's hit, "It's Not Unusual" was future Led Zeppelin member, Jimmy Page.