Tom Jones

Sir Thomas Jones Woodward, OBE (born 7 June 1940), known by his stage name Tom Jones, is a Welsh pop music singer particularly noted for his powerful voice.

He was born in Treforest, Pontypridd, near Cardiff in South Wales, Great Britain.

Tom Jones rose to fame in the mid-1960s, with an exuberant live act that included wearing tight breeches and billowing shirts, in an Edwardian style popular among his peers at the time. He was known for his overt sexuality, before this was as common as it has become in subsequent years.

In 1963 he became the frontman for Tommy Scott and The Senators, a local beat group. Clad in black leather, he soon gained a reputation in the South Wales area, although the Senators were still unknown in London.

In 1964 they laid down seven tracks with maverick Telstar producer Joe Meek, and 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 the ever-flighty Meek refused to release the tapes. Only after It's Not Unusual became a massive hit, Meek was able to sell the tapes to Tower (USA) 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 Wales. Mills became Jones' manager, and took the young singer to London. He also renamed him Tom Jones, an ingenious moniker that not only linked the singer to the image of the title character - a good-looking, low-born stud - portrayed in Tony Richardson's film of Fielding's Tom Jones, which was a huge contemporary hit, but also subtly emphasized his nationality. Gordon Mills gave many rock stars their stage names, among them Engelbert Humperdinck (born Arnold George Dorsey). The Senators became the Playboys, and later still the Squires. It was the beginning of the second phase in Jones' career.

Record companies were finding his style and delivery to be too abrasive and raw. Jones' vocals were considered to be too raucous, and he moved like Elvis. 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, (co-written by Les Reed), was an instant hit, released in early 1965. Initially, the BBC 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 1 the song reached number one in the UK and the top ten in America. In the same year, Jones sang the theme song to the James Bond film Thunderball. Jones was awarded the Grammy Award for Best New Artist for 1965. In 1966 Jones' popularity began to slip somewhat, causing Mills to redesign the singer's image into a more respectable, mature, tuxedoed crooner.

Inspired by long-time influence Jerry Lee Lewis' 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.

In 1967 he performed for the first time in Las Vegas, at the Flamingo. 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 Caesar's Palace 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 Elvis became good friends, spending time together in Las Vegas. They had a friendship that would endure until Presley's death in 1977.

2007 DVD release of the `1969-1971 TV variety series This is Tom JonesJones had an internationally successful television variety show from 1969-1971 titled This Is Tom Jones. This hit TV show was aired by the American Broadcasting Company (ABC-TV) in America and ITV in the UK. The 1970s saw Jones' popularity leveling off, but the hits kept coming: Daughter Of Darkness, She's A Lady, Till and The New Mexican Puppeteer were all hits in the UK. On July 29, 1986, Gordon Mills, Jones' long-time manager, died of cancer. Jones' son Mark became the singer's manager. In April 1987, the singer 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, and recorded it with The Art of Noise, and it was an instant hit. In 1993 he signed to Interscope Records, releasing the album The Lead And How To Swing It, and his profile was raised with a younger audience by a powerful performance at the Glastonbury Festival. 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.

In 1999 he recorded the blockbuster album Reload, a collection of duets with some of the year's brightest stars, which brought him back into the limelight. On new year's eve to ring in 2000, President Bill Clinton invited him to perform at the Millennium celebrations in Washington. Throughout that year, Jones garnered several honors for his work, including a BRIT Award for Best Male. 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.

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