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Rising 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 Tom Jones who was known for his overt sexuality before such an image became as common as it did in later years.Sir Thomas Jones Woodward, OBE, (born 7 June 1940), known by his stage name Tom Jones, is a Grammy Award-winning Welsh popular music singer particularly noted for his powerful voice. He was born in Treforest, Pontypridd, near Cardiff in South Wales.
In 1963 he became the front man 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.
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.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.The first 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 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, thus displaying great irrational behavior. 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 hurling frenzy of explicit 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.
Jones had an internationally successful television variety show from 1969-1971 which was titled as 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.The son of coal miner Thomas Woodward, and Freda Jones, Jones began singing at an early age. He'd regularly sing at family gatherings and weddings, and also sang in his school choir. 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. At the age of 16, Jones married Linda Trenchard on March 2, 1957 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 laborer and a door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman.
In 1974, Jones moved to the United States, buying the mansion formerly belonging to Dean Martin in Bel-Air, Los Angeles. A running gag in the American comedy The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, is Carlton's enthusiastic love of Tom Jones, and a spinning dance he would perform to Jones' song It's Not Unusual. The scouse band Space paid tribute to him in its hit song "The ballad of Tom Jones", which reached number 4 in the UK charts. The song tells of a couple who is close to murdering each other but is saved by hearing Tom Jones' Greatest Hits. In celebration of his 65th birthday on 28 May 2005, Jones returned to his homeland to perform a spectacular concert in Ynysangharad Park, Pontypridd. This was his first performance in Pontypridd since 1964.
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