Sir Tom Jones OBE (born Thomas Jones Woodward, 7.6.1940)
Tom Jones is a Welsh singer, who rose to fame in the 1960s. He has sold over 100 million records across the globe and is considered one of the world's most iconic singers.
Tom Jones: Musical Career
In the early 1960s, Tom Jones became known for his flamboyant dress sense and overt sexuality and in 1963, he was chosen as the front-man for a Welsh band named Tommy Scott and The Senators. Although the band gained notoriety in Wales, they were unknown outside of the region.
The band worked with the legendary producer Joe Meek in 1964. They planned to release 'Lonely Joe' and 'I Was A Fool' as a single but the eccentric Joe Meek refused to release the tapes, forcing the band to return to Wales, playing in working men's clubs.
Tom Jones was eventually spotted by Gordon Mills, a music manager based in London, but originally from South Wales. It was Mills that chose the moniker Tom Jones; a reference to Henry Fielding's The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling. It was also Mills who had renamed Arnold George Dorsey as Engelbert Humperdinck. The Senators were renamed the Playboys and then The Squires.
Tom Jones' early style was heavily indebted to Elvis Presley and many UK record companies found him too abrasive and raucous. The song 'It's Not Unusual', composed by Gordon Mills and Les Reed became an immediate hit in 1965. Initially, the BBC refused to play the track but it was picked up by pirate radio station Radio Caroline. Eventually, the track reached number one in the UK and entered the top 10 in the US. Later that year, Tom Jones sang the theme tune to Thunderball, the James Bond film. He received that year's Grammy Award for Best New Artist.
Tom Jones' most successful single, 'The Green Green Grass Of Home' was released in 1966, inspired by Jerry Lee Lewis' version. He began releasing songs with a broader public appeal, such as 'What's New Pussycat?' and 'Delilah'.
In the late 1960's Tom Jones took on a number of high profile residencies in Las Vegas clubs, such as the Flamingo and Caesar's Palace. It was here that he became famed for having knickers thrown at him by his female fans. The knickers were shortly followed by hotel room keys. It was in Las Vegas that Tom Jones established a friendship with the late Elvis Presley.
Between 1969 and 1971, Tom Jones had his own hit TV show, This Is Tom Jones, shown both in the UK and the US. At the start of the 1980s, he had another show named The Tom Jones Show.
In 1970, Tom Jones was paired up with Raquel Welch for a TV special entitled Raquel! The programme was viewed by millions across the globe and featured guest performances from John Wayne and Bob Hope.
In the 1970s, Tom Jones had a number of successful single releases, such as 'She's A Lady', 'Daughter of Darkness' and 'The New Mexican Puppeteer'.
The 1980s were a barren time for Tom Jones. His manager, Gordon Mills died in 1986 and Tom's son, Mark, became his manager. Though his notoriety was waning, he re-entered the UK charts with 'A Boy From Nowhere', followed by a cover of 'Kiss' by Prince, which he recorded with The Art Of Noise. Jones signed to Interscope Records in 1993. He became quickly credible with younger audiences when he appeared at the Glastonbury Festival and in 1998, he performed with Robbie Williams at the BRIT awards.
The following year, he released an album of duets, entitled Reload, on which he performed with the likes of Cerys Matthews (of Catatonia), Stereophonics, Lenny Kravitz, Heather Small and James Taylor Quartet. He later collaborated with Jools Holland and Wyclef Jean, demonstrating a keen ability to adapt to a number of different genres. Tom Jones returned to play at the Glastonbury Festival in 2009.