Sir Tom Jones, O.B.E.
Thomas Jones Woodward was born on the 7th June 1940 in Pontypridd, Wales. The son of a coal miner, Tom became a part-time pub singer before forming his own group called Tommy Scott & The Senators. In 1964 he had signed a deal with the Decca record label after being discovered in the previous year by his manager Gordon Mills. Going under the name Tom Jones, he released his first single Chills And Fever which failed to make any impact on the charts in August of that year. In January 1965 Tom’s second single It’s Not Unusual was released and entered the UK singles chart on 11th February before peaking at number one. It was the first in a series of hit singles that established him as one of the biggest acts of the 1960s. His second number one Green, Green Grass Of Home charted on the 10th November 1966, holding the top position for seven weeks selling over one million copies. The track followed the success of his previous singles Once Upon A Time; With These Hands; Once There Was A Time/Not Responsible; This And That along with two hit movie title song hit singles, What’s New Pussycat? and the James Bond movie Thunderball. Throughout the 1960s Tom’s hits kept coming with such classics as Detroit City; Funny Familiar Forgotten Feelings; I’ll Never Fall In Love Again; I’m Coming Home; Delilah; Help Yourself; A Minute Of Your Time; Love Me Tonight and Without Love. The Green, Green Grass Of Home was later covered some nine years later by Tom’s friend, the late Elvis Presley, who he met in 1965 and remained friends with until his death in 1977. In addition to the hit singles, Tom became a regular club performer in Las Vegas and by 1969 the singer was given his own television series that ran until 1971 entitled This Is Tom Jones featuring him sing with other big stars of the time.
The 1970s saw even more hit singles: Daughter Of Darkness; I (Who Have Nothing); She’s A Lady; Puppet Man; Till, The Young Mexican Puppeteer; Letter To Lucille; Something ‘Bout You Baby I Like, before his final hit Say You’ll Stay Until Tomorrow that peaked at number forty in 1977. Tom’s popularity had now faded in the UK, after twenty six hit singles and eighteen albums it seemed that Tom would never grace the charts again as release after release failed to make any impact with the record buying public. He recorded less material as he chose to continue his career as a cabaret singer in Las Vegas which began in 1967 and played there until 2011.
In 1987 returned to the UK singles chart with his first hit in a decade entitled A Boy From Nowhere reaching number two before the follow up Born To Be Me reached number sixty one in January 1988. Both singles were taken from the musical Matador by Mike Leander & Edward Seago that only existed as a various artists album with narration by Robert Powel. Although the first of the two singles was a huge hit, it didn’t open up a door to a new audience of fans unlike his next release with the Art of Noise, a cover version of Prince's Kiss. The collaboration came about after they saw Tom performing the song on the Channel Four television series The Last Resort. After contacting his manager (his son Mark) & agreeing to record the track, the Art of Noise sent a backing track for Tom to sing to before it was altered after the vocals had been recorded. The single was an international hit that outsold the original and re-launched his career. The single originally appeared on the Art of Noise’s The Best Of The Art Of Noise album before ending up on Tom’s 1989 album At This Moment that featured production work by Anne Dudley. Once more the hits kept coming with the likes of Move Closer; Couldn’t Say Goodbye; Carrying A Torch and All You Need Is Love before teaming up Trevor Horn on the hit If I Only Knew taken from the album The Lead And How To Swing It.
In 1996 Tom starred alongside Jack Nicholson, Danny DeVito, Pierce Brosnan and Glenn Close in the Tim Burton movie Mars Attacks before collaborating once again with Anne Dudley in the following year on the single You Can Leave Your Hat On from the film The Full Monty. In 1999 collaborated with the likes of Van Morrison, Simply Red, Zucchero, Natalie Imbruglia, Portishead, The Pretenders, Robbie Williams, The Divine Comedy, Space and James Dean Bradfield on his number one smash hit album Reload. The success of that release saw Tom once again attract a new audience of fans. The album  included no less than five hit singles: Burning Down The House (with The Cardigans); Baby, It’s Cold Outside (with Cerys Matthews); Mama Told Me Not To Come (with Stereophonics); Sex Bomb (with Mousse T) and You Need Love Like That (with Heather Small).
In 2002 he hit the charts once again with the single Tom Jones International taken from the album Mr. Jones with a further hit Black Betty in 2003. The following year saw him team up with Jools Holland on the album Tom Jones + Jools Holland. In 2006 Tom was given a knighthood and was also given an O.B.E. in 1999 prior to being given the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Brit Awards in 2002. Also in 2006 Chicane teamed up with the singer on their hit Stoned In Love. In late 2008 Tom released the single If He Should Ever Leave You and the album 24 Hours as well as appearing on the ITV1 television show Here Come The Boys. 2009 saw Tom appear with Robin Gibb on the Comic Relief charity single Islands In The Storm performed by Vanessa Jenkins (Ruth Jones) and Bryn West (Rob Brydon). In June of that year he stole the show at the Glastonbury Festival by belting out some of his biggest hits including It's Not Unusual; The Green, Green Grass Of Home before ending with Kiss. From his performance there, it was obvious that Tom had once again, attracted a whole new and younger audience of fans.
In 2011 saw him release the critically acclaimed album Praise & Blame and his follow up Spirit In The Room in 2012.
March 2012 saw Tom appear in a new BBC 1 television music talent show The Voice UK where he was a judge and mentor to contestants. The show also featured the talents of Jessie J, Danny O'Donoghue and will.i.am as the other judges and became an instant hit and would return for a second series in the following year. In May 2012 Tom appeared in the Playhouse Presents... drama King Of The Teds playing the part of Ron, an ageing singer troubled by the failure of his musical career, and his fading marriage. It was broadcast on Sky Arts 1 and received positive reviews by critics.
Tom Jones is more than just a singer and television star, he is a National Institution with a career spanning six decades. It will be interesting to see how many of today's singers will enjoy such a long and successful career as his.
© Copyright K.M. Whitehouse 2008, 2012

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