The Welsh boy from Nora Street who
immortalized the Wheatsheaf pub should be spoken about in the same
breath as Elvis Presley. Tom Jones became one of the most popular
vocalists to emerge from the 60s British Invasion.
Since the mid 1960s, Jones has sang nearly every
form of popular music - pop, rock, R&B, show tunes, country,
dance and techno. His actual style, a full-throated robust baritone, has
never changed. He just sang!
Born Thomas Jones Woodward, Tom Jones began singing
professionally in 1963, performing as Tommy Scott with The Senators, a
Welsh Beat group. In 1964 he recorded a handful of solo tracks with
record producer Joe meek and shopped them to various record companies to
Later that year, Decca producer Peter Sullivan
discovered Tommy Scott performing in a club and directed him to
manager Phil Solomon. It was a short-lived partnership and the singer
soon moved back to Wales, where he continued to sing in local clubs.
At one of these shows he gained the attention of
former Viscounts singer Gordon Mills who was now an artist
Mills signed Tom, changed his name to
helped him record his first single for Decca, Chills and Fever, released in late 1964.
The single did not chart, but It's
Not Unusual, released in early 1965, became a number one hit in the
UK and a Top 10 hit in the USA.
The heavily orchestrated pop
arrangement perfectly meshed with Tom's swinging, sexy image,
guaranteeing him maximum press coverage, which helped translate into a
series of hits including Once Upon A Time, Little Lonely One
and With These Hands.
During 1965, Mills also secured a number of movie
themes for Jones to record, including the Top Ten hit What's New
Pussycat? (June 1965) and the James Bond theme song Thunderball
Jones' popularity slipped somewhat during 1966
causing Mills to re-design the singers image into a more mature,
'respectable' (usually tuxedo-clad) crooner. He also began to sing
material that appealed to a wider audience, like his huge country hit Green,
Green Grass Of Home.
The strategy worked and he returned to the
top of the charts in the UK and began hitting the Top 40 again in the
USA. For the remainder of the 60s, he scored a
consistent string of hits in both Britain and America.
At the end of the decade, Tom relocated to America
where he hosted the television variety program This Is Tom Jones.
Running between 1969 and 1971, the show was a success and laid the
groundwork for the singer's move to Las Vegas in the early 70s.
Once he moved to Vegas, the singer began recording
less, choosing to concentrate on his lucrative club performances. After
Gordon Mills died in the late 70s, Tom's son Mark Woodward became his
The change in manager prompted Tom to begin
recording again. This time, he concentrated on the country market,
releasing a series of slick Nashville-style country pop albums in the
early 80s which earned him a handful of hits.
Jones' next image makeover came in 1988 when he
sang Prince's Kiss with the electronic dance outfit The Art Of
Noise. The single became a Top Ten hit in the UK and reached the US
Top 40, which led to a successful concert tour and a part in a
recording of the Dylan Thomas play, Under Milkwood.
The singer then returned to the club circuit where
he stayed for several years. In 1993 Jones performed at the Glastonbury
Festival in England where he received an enthusiastic response
from the young crowd.
Soon he was on the comeback trail again, releasing
the alternative dance/pop album, The Lead And How To Swing It in
On stage, Tom has always played up his sexual
appeal; it didn't matter whether he was in an unbuttoned shirt or a
tuxedo, he always radiated a raw sexuality which earned him a huge
following of devoted female fans who frequently threw their underwear on
His following has not diminished over the decades
and he has been able to adapt to the changing face of the pop music
charts, appealing to a whole new generation of the music-listening