Since 1965, Welsh singer Tom Jones has sold more than 100 million records worldwide. Tom says his career highlight was being knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 2006. He has influenced many singers in the music industry and has made significant contributions to the industry with his powerful baritone voice and magnetic stage presence. At 69, Tom continues to attract fans of all ages and has no plans to slow down.
Thomas Jones Woodward grew up in South Wales in the United Kingdom. He spent his teenage years working as a laborer during the day and singing in pubs at night. By the mid-1960s, Tom had met songwriter and manager Gordon Mills, dropped his last name and recorded one of Mills' songs as Tom Jones.
"It's Not Unusual" sold three million copies. Tom's success led to a U.S. network television show. He was in demand by the day's top songwriters, recording the Burt Bacharach-Hal David song "What's New Pussycat?"
Performer and lover of music
Known for his powerful voice and a sexy stage presence, Tom's legacy is his resilience and versatility.
"I love to listen to music, and I want to know what is going on. I have always been into sound - ever since rock 'n' roll began in 1955. 'Rock Around the Clock' was a great record. The sound was so different… the sound of it was so different from stuff that had been recorded before.
"I listen to the radio a lot, and I am always listening to who's producing what … who's coming up with some interesting sounds. I enjoy that. I do not only do it so I can stay in the business; I do it because I really enjoy it."
Friendships with Presley, Sinatra
Early in his career, Tom was booked to perform in Las Vegas. He became one of the town's biggest attractions, and it led to friendships with Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra.
"And I remember once I did an album of standards. Elvis said, 'I do not think you should do that.' He said, 'We do not do that … we leave that to Frank Sinatra.' So I said, 'OK.' He said 'we' so I thought that was great … great company. And then I met Frank Sinatra, and he was telling me I should be singing more big swing songs and more standards, and there is Elvis telling me I should be singing more rock 'n' roll and less standards.
"Coming from two greats like that, both of them giving me advice of what I should be doing … I thought, 'Well, this is tremendous.'"
The song he should have sang
Although many songs came his way over the years, Tom remembers one in particular that got away.
"Paul McCartney [Beatles] … I was with him in a club in London, and I asked him, would he write me a song? He said, 'OK.' And he sent it to my house, and I have a single [record] coming out on Friday. Paul said, 'If you are going to do it [record the song], it has to be your next single.' The record company said, 'We will have to stop this one [the original song] from coming out now,' and this, that and the other. The song was 'The Long and Winding Road.'
"So, you know, I missed it. After that, I have sung it since … after the fact."
Still crooning at 69 years old
Tom recently released a new album titled 24 Hours.
"I co-wrote most of the songs on it, so it is more of a personal album. For me, it is a first. On all the other albums I have done in the past, the songs have been written for me, and some of the songs I covered that have been done by other people."
This now 69-year-old sex symbol is still drawing audiences and is comfortable with his place in the music industry.
"People tell me that I am not trying to be somebody that I am not. I am not trying to be younger than I am. Kids have told me that as well. 'We like you because you are real … what you see is what you get, and you are not trying to be something you are not.' I think that is it. If you do have what is known as sex appeal, I do not think it goes away overnight because you get older … as long as you wear it well."