Tom Jones is a very popular singer from Wales with a big voice and a string of hits from the mid-60's through the early 70's.
Thomas John Woodward was born in 1940 in Treforest, Pontypridd, South Wales. He began singing as a child and has been singing all his life. He suffered from tuberculosis at age 12 and was bed-ridden for a time. Married to his high school sweetheart Melinda Trenchard when both were 16, they had a son in 1957 and named him Mark. Tom did factory and construction work for a time while singing in working men's clubs in South Wales, under the names Tom Woodward, "Tiger Tom," and later as Tommy Scott. He became popular in the region, word got around about him and people wanted to hear him sing. In 1963 he formed a trio and called it Tommy Scott and the Senators. By this time he was making a pretty good living as a singer.
Another Welshman, Gordon Mills, caught his act one evening at at the Top Hat in Cwmtillery, Wales and began promoting his career. Mills suggested he change his name to Tom Jones, capitalizing on the popularity of the 1963 motion picture by the same name starring Albert Finney, based on the novel by Henry Fielding. The Tom Jones character in the film is very popular with the ladies, and has a love 'em and leave 'em lifestyle. The singer Tom Jones would prove to be popular with the ladies as well. Following Jones' move to London in 1964, Mills and Les Reed wrote a song they titled It's Not Unusual and had Jones record a demo. They took it to the agent for popular British singer Sandie Shaw but he declined, saying that it would never be a hit. Jones re-recorded it on Decca and it proved to be enormously popular, selling 3 million copies, reaching #1 on the British pop chart and cracking the top ten in America in 1965. Next up Jones recorded the Burt Bacharach/Hal David composition of What's New Pussycat? for the offbeat film of the same title, and it too went top ten in the USA. He was on his way. By the time the year closed out, Jones had won the Grammy Award for Best New Artist.
As the Sixties wore on the hits kept coming for Tom Jones. In 1966 he released the title track for the James Bond film Thunderball (the title for both the film and the song) on the Parrot label, which was the label for nearly all of his hits. Others hits followed ... Green, Green Grass Of Home (his second #1 in the UK), Detroit City, Delilah, Help Yourself, Love Me Tonight, and I'll Never Fall In Love Again, as the decade wound down. Not only were his singles selling, but he had a great deal of success with album sales as well, with a number of his albums reaching the top ten in sales in both the USA and the UK.
Gordon Mills noted that many of the British pop singers of the day had facial hair, maybe smoked a little weed now and then, and appealed to teenagers, but Tom Jones was clean-shaven and many of his adoring fans were middle-aged women. Jones and his act were big and brawny. He was quite a presence on stage, often wearing tight pants and sweating and passing handkerchiefs back to members of the crowds that jammed his concerts. He starred in the 1969 USA television special This Is Tom Jones and followed it with a tour of the USA. It became fashionable for women to remove their underwear to throw to him as well as their hotel room keys, while he was performing on stage. Jones had an undeniable appeal and Mills knew just how to handle it. Jones became a bigger-than-life attraction in clubs (and Mills would produce the same effect later with others such as Engelbert Humperdinck and Gilbert O'Sullivan). From 1969 to 1971 Tom Jones hosted his own musical variety series on television.
Jones continued recording hits in the early 70's. Without Love (There Is Nothing), Daughter Of Darkness, I (Who Have Nothing), and Can't Stop Loving You were all produced by Peter Sullivan. In 1971 Jones had a smash hit with She's A Lady, written by Paul Anka, and followed with others such as Puppet Man (written by Neil Sedaka) and Resurrection Shuffle.
For several years he did not record any singles. In 1974 he moved to the West Coast of the United States, buying Dean Martin's former home in the Bel Air section of Los Angeles, in order to reduce his tax burden and be closer to Las Vegas. He had begun performing in Las Vegas in 1967, where he was enormously popular and became friends with another popular Vegas performer, Elvis Presley. (He would perform in Vegas, primarily at the Flamingo or Caesars Palace, every year until 2011). In 1977 he returned to the US top forty for the first time in six years with his recording of Say You'll Stay Until Tomorrow on Epic. The Tom Jones Show was his sydicated television series in 1980-1981. In 1983 Jones returned to Cardiff for his first performance in Wales in ten years, and received a frenzied welcome. He has been a huge hero in Wales for many years. Gordon Mills passed away in 1986 and Jones' son Mark Woodward took over Mills' duties as manager. Jones recorded some songs for a proposed musical titled Matador based on the life of 60's bullfighter El Cordobes. He recorded an album on Mercury Things That Matter Most To Me in 1987 with some country-style tracks, and the following year he recorded Kiss with The Art Of Noise on China, which would be his last top forty recording on the US chart.
Tom Jones is an enormously popular, enormously successful, very wealthy singer who has always given a good show. He has continued releasing recordings and performing up to the current time. A singer all his life, and still married to Melinda, he has never reached the #1 spot on the chart in the US, his most successful single landing at #2 with She's A Lady in 1971. His other top ten hits in the US are his very first hit It's Not Unusual, What's New Pussycat?, I'll Never Fall In Love Again, and Without Love (There Is Nothing).
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