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Sir Tom Jones OBE (born Thomas Jones-Woodward on 7 June 1940) is a Welsh singer. Since 1965, Jones has sold over 100 million records.

Early life

Thomas Jones-Woodward was born at 57 Kingsland Terrace, Trefforestmarker, Pontypriddmarker, near Cardiffmarker in Wales; his parents were Freda Jones (died 7 February 2003) and Thomas Woodward (died 5 October 1981), a coal miner. His maternal grandfather was of Welsh descent, while the rest of his ancestry is English. Jones began singing at an early age; he'd regularly sing at family gatherings, weddings, and in his school choir, and it was clear that he had singing talent. However, he was struck down by tuberculosis and bedridden for almost a year. It was a critical time for him, but he could do little else but listen to music and draw. On 2 March 1957, at the age of sixteen, Jones married Melinda Trenchard, and had a son named Mark, long before becoming a pop idol. Jones quit school with no qualifications and took a variety of jobs including a builder's labourer and a door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman. Shortly afterwards he became a singer.

Musical career

Early fame

Jones rose to fame in the 1960s as a singer with an exuberant live act that included wearing tight pants and billowing shirts, in an Edwardian style popular among his peers at the time. In 1963, Jones became the frontman for Tommy Scott and The Senators, a local beat group. Clad in black leather, he soon gained a reputation in South Walesmarker, although the Senators were unknown in London.

In 1964 the band laid down seven tracks with maverick "Telstar" producer Joe Meek, who took them to various labels in an attempt to get a record deal, with no success. The plan was to release a single, "Lonely Joe/I Was A Fool", but Meek wasn't able to lease the tapes. Only after "It's Not Unusual" became a massive hit was Meek able to lease the tapes to Tower (US) and Columbia (UK). The group returned to South Wales and continued to play gigs at dance halls and working men's clubs. One night, at the Top Hat in Cwmtillery, Jones was spotted by Gordon Mills, a London-based manager originally from South Walesmarker. Mills became Jones' manager, and took the young singer to London. He renamed him "Tom Jones", an ingenious moniker that not only linked the singer to the image of the title character in Tony Richardson's film of Henry Fielding's The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, which was a huge contemporary hit, but also subtly emphasized Jones's Welsh nationality. His backing group (The Senators/Playboys) was renamed The Squires. It was the beginning of the second phase of Jones' career.

Record companies began finding Jones's style and delivery to be too abrasive and raw. Jones' vocals were considered to be too raucous, and he moved like Elvis (whom he later cited as one of his influences). But eventually, Decca rekindled their early interest, and Jones recorded his first single, "Chills And Fever" in late 1964.

The single didn't chart, but the follow-up, "It's Not Unusual," which Mills wrote and composed jointly with Les Reed, was an instant hit, released in early 1965. The BBC initially refused to play it, but an offshore pirate station, Radio Caroline, picked it up. Its orchestrated arrangement, coupled with Jones' energetic delivery, proved infectious, and by March the song reached number one in the UK and the top ten in America. In the same year, Jones sang the theme song to Thunderball. Jones was awarded the Grammy Award for Best New Artist for 1965.

Inspired by long-time influence Jerry Lee Lewis's country version, Jones released his most successful single ever, "Green Green Grass of Home" (written by Claude "Curly" Putman Jr. in 1965), and began to sing material that appealed to a broad audience, as well as a string of hit singles and albums including "What's New Pussycat?", "Help Yourself", and "Delilah". The strategy worked, as he returned to the top of the charts in the UK, and began hitting the Top 40 again in the U.S.

International success

In 1967 he performed for the first time in Las Vegas at the Flamingomarker. In 1968, starting at New York's Copacabana night club, women would swoon and scream, and some would throw their knickers on stage. Soon after, he began to play Las Vegas and began recording less, choosing to concentrate on his lucrative club performances. At Caesars Palacemarker his shows were traditionally a knicker-hurling frenzy of raw sexual tension and good-time entertainment. There, they started throwing hotel room keys. Jones and his idol Elvis Presley met in 1965 at the Paramount stage, when Elvis was filming Paradise, Hawaiian Style. After that they became good friends, spending more and more time together in Las Vegas. Their friendship endured until Presley's death in 1977.

Jones had an internationally successful television variety show from 1969 to 1971, titled This Is Tom Jones. This hit TV show was aired by ABC in America and ITV in the UK. During 1980-1981, he had a second television variety show, "The Tom Jones Show", which lasted one season and produced 24 episodes. In recent years, both television shows have been the subject of litigation in relation to the original license holder, C/F International. For example, from December 2004, C/F International was a secured judgement creditor of Classic World Productions and its principal, Darryl Payne, for approximately one million dollars, and was the principal secured creditor at the time of the subsequent bankruptcy filing by the company. C/F International's action against Classic World Productions and owner Darryl Payne was based on unpaid royalties in relation to the Tom Jones television variety show of 1969–71, "This Is Tom Jones", and related recordings. C/F International's rights to later Tom Jones material were also subject to dispute. In March, 2007, Tom Jones and Tom Jones Enterprises sued C/F International to stop C/F International from licensing sound recordings made from Jones' 1981 series of variety shows, "The Tom Jones Show", recorded in Vancouvermarker, Canada. It was contended that any rights that C/F International had to license "The Tom Jones Show" did not include the right to make and license separate recordings of the performances on the show. In addition, it was contended that any rights that C/F International had in "The Tom Jones Show" no longer existed, due to numerous breaches of contract. The 1969-1971 "This Is Tom Jones" television shows are currently sold by Time-Life, rather than by Classic World Productions or C/F International.

In 1970, Jones teamed up with Raquel Welch and Producer/Choreographer David Winters of Winters-Rosen Productions for the TV special Raquel!. This is now seen as a classic 1970s timepiece that paired together pop-culture icons in their respective primes. The multi-million-dollar, TV song & dance extravaganza was filmed around the world — from Paris to Mexico. Lavish production numbers of classic songs from the era, costumes and guest performances, including John Wayne and Bob Hope in the Wild West, Jones and Welch then being successful 1970s actors.

Decline and resurgence

The 1970s saw Jones' popularity leveling off, but had multiple successes: "Daughter Of Darkness", "She's A Lady", "Till" and "The New Mexican Puppeteer" were all hits in the UKmarker, and he scored a #1 country hit in the U.S with "Say You'll Stay Until Tomorrow", which also reached #15 on the Billboard Hot 100.

On 29 July 1986, Gordon Mills, Jones' long-time manager, died of cancer. Jones' son Mark became his manager. In April 1987, Jones re-entered the singles chart with the hit "A Boy From Nowhere", which got him back into the public eye. A few months later he performed a version of Prince's Kiss, which he recorded with The Art of Noise. This was featured in the score to My Stepmother Is an Alien, and it was an instant hit. In 1993 he signed to the Interscope Records label, on which he released the album The Lead And How To Swing It, and the single "If I Only Knew" (whose video was directed by Lol Creme), and his profile was raised with a younger audience by a performance at the Glastonbury Festivalmarker. In 1998 he performed a medley of songs from the film The Full Monty with Robbie Williams at the BRIT Awards. That same year, Space and Cerys Matthews released "The Ballad of Tom Jones".

The 2000s

In 1999 he recorded the album Reload, a collection of duets with various other artists, which brought him back into the limelight. On New Year's Eve to ring in 2000, United States President Bill Clinton invited him to perform at the Millennium celebrations in Washington, D.C.marker

Throughout that year, Jones garnered several honours for his work, including a BRIT Award for Best Male. In 2000, Jones was hired as the new voice of Australia's National Rugby League, singing in an advertisement to market the 2000 season. In 2001, he toured throughout the Middle East and Europe. In subsequent years, he recorded albums in collaboration with artists such as Wyclef Jean and Jools Holland.

In celebration of his 65th birthday on 28 May 2005, Jones returned to his homeland to perform a spectacular concert in Ynysangharad Park, Pontypriddmarker. This was his first performance in Pontypridd since 1964.


His early hits include:

Jones's recording career slumped on the pop charts during the 1970s and '80s, although he placed 16 singles on the Billboard Country Music charts between 1976 and 1985, the biggest of which was "Say You'll Stay Until Tomorrow" (# 1 Country, # 15 pop) in 1977, and his touring continued successfully. When his son Mark became his manager in 1987, his musical style was taken in a different direction. His recording career was revived with his first major hit single in over a decade, "A Boy From Nowhere", taken from the musical Matador. In 1988 he collaborated with The Art of Noise to record Prince's popular song "Kiss"; this was featured on the My Stepmother Is an Alien soundtrack. Following this, he started to record in collaboration with a younger generation of musicians:

His Reload album, released in 2000, became the biggest hit of his career. An album of cover versions recorded as duets with contemporary artists, using their record producers and their recording methods, it reached number one in the United Kingdom, and sold over 4 million copies worldwide. In 2002, he released the album Mr. Jones, which was produced by Wyclef Jean and included the singles "Tom Jones International" and "Black Betty". In 2003, he was honored with a BRIT Award for Outstanding Contribution to Music. In 2004, his "Sex Bomb" single became a major club hit.

For his contribution to the recording industry, Jones was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Famemarker, located at 6608 Hollywood Blvd.

In 2005 the album Together In Concert, was recorded live with John Farnham and his band.

He has collaborated with Chicane for "Stoned in Love", a dance track that was released 24 April 2006. It entered at number eight in the UK charts the following Sunday.

In 2007, he signed to New York-based independent label S-Curve, owned by music executive Steve Greenberg. An album is expected in 2008.

On 1 July 2007, Jones was one of the invited artists who performed at Wembley Stadiummarker at the Concert for Diana, joined on stage by guitarist Joe Perry of Aerosmith and British soul singer Joss Stone. He sang "God Save the Queen", the United Kingdom's national anthem, before Ricky Hatton's fight against Floyd Mayweather in Las Vegas on 8 December 2007. On 19 April 2008 he sang "Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau", the Welsh national anthem, at the fight between fellow Welsh icon Joe Calzaghe and Bernard Hopkins in Las Vegas.


Jones at the Hampton Court Palace, June 2007

Although his manager and public relations staff have attempted to change his sex-bomb image and neutralise the knicker-throwing fans, to the delight of his audiences Jones has never toned down his behaviour in the shows. In 2009, Jones continued to tour and record. A major portion of the year he regularly performs his show at the MGM Grand hotel, located on the Las Vegas Stripmarker. His show at the MGM is performed in a cabaret style theatre. Other venues on his yearly schedule include numerous shows at Atlantic Citymarker, New Jersey, and appearances in the US, the UK and Canada. Jones has recently made performances in South America.

On 17 September 2008, Jones announced the forthcoming release of his retro-tinged album 24 Hours on the S-Curve Records label, his first release in the US in 15 years: "The fire is still in me. Not to be an oldie, but a goodie. I want to be a contender." It was due for release on 17 November in the UK and 25 November in the US.

On Sunday 16 November 2008, Jones was invited to perform on BBC's Strictly Come Dancing, where he performed the debut single from his album 24 Hours. However, when asked if he would ever consider joining the show as a contestant in 2009, Jones declined. On Sunday 30 November, Jones performed It's Not Unusual and a number of songs from the 2008 album 24 Hours for ITV's Here Come The Boys. "If He Should Ever Leave You" from 24 Hours was named No. 9 by Spinner as one of the best songs of 2008. In February 2009 he did an exclusive Take-Away Show with Vincent Moon, performing three songs live in front of a camera in a hotel room in New York.

Jones 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" with Ruth Jones, Rob Brydon and Robin Gibb. The song, inspired by BBC3 hit sitcom Gavin and Stacey, was released in aid of Comic Relief and reached number 1 on 15 March 2009.

Jones sang "God Save the Queen", the national anthem of the United Kingdommarker, during Manny Pacquiao and Ricky Hatton's boxing fight in Las Vegas, Nevada on 2 May 2009. Tom Jones performed in Maltamarker on 15 November 2009. He was set to perform at the MFCC in Ta' Qali as part of his current tour.

Personal life

In 1974, Jones moved to the United States, buying the mansion formerly belonging to Dean Martin in Bel-Air, Los Angeles. Despite his many well publicised infidelities, he has remained married to his wife Melinda for 50 years. A son was born as a result of an affair Jones had with a model named Katherine Berkery. He has refused to acknowledge the young man, whose name is Jonathan Berkery, despite DNA testing proof of paternity.

Jones was made an OBE in 1999, and a Knight Bachelor in the 2006 New Years Honours list for his services to music. He was subsequently knighted by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palacemarker, Londonmarker, on 29 March 2006.

In 2005 the BBC reported that Jones had amassed a fortune of £175 million.

In July 2009 it was revealed that Jones is planning to relocate back to the UK after 35 years in Los Angelesmarker California.




Further reading

  • Bert Schwartz: "Tom Jones" (Grosset & Dunlap, New York City, 1969) 76-103307
  • Peter Jones: "Tom Jones: Biography of a Great Star" (Avon Publishing, 1970 (1st edition), 1971)
  • Colin MacFarlane: "Tom Jones: The Boy from Nowhere" (W.H. Allen, London, 1988 St Martins Press, New York) ISBN 0-491-03118-1
  • Stafford Hildred & David Gritten: "Tom Jones : A Biography" (Isis Large Print Books, April 1991) ISBN 1-85089-486-8
  • Roger St. Pierre: "Tom Jones — Quote Unquote" (Parragon Book Service, LTD. publishers, Great Britain, 1996) ISBN 0-7525-1696-5
  • Stafford Hildred & David Gritten: "Tom Jones : A Biography" (revised edition '98) (Sidgwick & Jackson, 1998 an imprint of Macmillan Publishers Ltd) ISBN 0-283-06312-2
  • Chris Roberts: "Tom Jones" (1st edition) (Virgin Books, 1999 an imprint of Virgin Publishing Limited) ISBN 1-85227-846-3
  • Lucy Ellis, Bryony Sutherland: "Tom Jones: Close Up" (Omnibus Press, 2000) ISBN 0-7119-7549-3 (Hc) ISBN 0-7119-8645-2 (Pb)
  • Robin Eggar: "Tom Jones — The Biography" (1st edition) (Headline Book Publishing, 2000) ISBN 0-7472-7578-5

External links

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