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Tom Jones Biography


Home > Music > J > Jones, Tom > Biography


Birth Name: Thomas John Woodward
Born: 1940/06/07
Birth Place: Trefforest, Pontypridd, Wales, United Kingdom
Years Active: 1963–present
Genres: Pop, Blue-Eyed Soul


Tom Jones (Sir Thomas John Woodward, OBE, born June 7, 1940) is a Welsh singer. Since the mid 1960s, Jones has sung many genres of popular music including pop, rock, R&B, show tunes, country, dance, techno, soul and gospel.

Jones became the frontman for Tommy Scott and the Senators, a Welsh beat group, in 1963. They soon gained a local following and reputation in South Wales. In 1964 the group recorded several solo tracks with producer Joe Meek, who took them to various labels, but they had little success. Later that year Decca producer Peter Sullivan saw Tommy Scott and The Senators performing in a club and directed them to manager Phil Solomon but the partnership was short-lived.

The group continued to play gigs at dance halls and working men's clubs in South Wales. One night, at the Top Hat in Cwmtillery, Wales, 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. The stage name “Tom Jones” linked him to the image of the title character in Tony Richardson's then-recent hit film and emphasized his Welsh nationality.

Eventually Mills got Jones a recording contract with Decca. His first single, “Chills and Fever,” was released in late 1964. It didn't chart, but the follow-up, “It's Not Unusual"” became an international hit. In early 1965 “It's Not Unusual” reached #1 in the United Kingdom and the Top 10 in the United States. During 1965 Mills secured a number of movie themes for Jones to record including the themes for the film “What's New Pussycat?” and for the James Bond film “Thunderball.” Jones was also 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 that of a crooner. Jones also began to sing material that appealed to a wider audience such as the big country hit “Green, Green Grass of Home.” The strategy worked and Jones returned to the top of the charts in the United Kingdom and began hitting the Top 40 again in the United States. For the remainder of the decade he scored a string of hits on both sides of the Atlantic, including “I'll Never Fall in Love Again,” “Delilah,” “Help Yourself” and “Without Love (There is Nothing).”

In 1967, Jones performed for the first time in Las Vegas, at the Flamingo. His performances and style of dress (increasingly featuring his open, half-unbuttoned shirts and tight trousers) became part of his stage act. He soon chose to record less, instead concentrating on his lucrative club performances. At Caesars Palace his shows were a knicker-hurling frenzy of raw sex and good-time entertainment. Women started throwing hotel room keys onto the stage. Tom Jones played at least one week in Las Vegas every year until 2011.

In the early 1970s Jones had a number of hit singles, including “She's A Lady,” “Till” and “The Young New Mexican Puppeteer,” but in the mid 1970s his popularity declined although he did have a big hit in 1976 with “Say You'll Stay Until Tomorrow” which went to #1 on the U.S. Billboard Country chart and #15 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart.

In the early 1980s Jones started to record country music. From 1980 to 1986 he had nine songs in the Billboard Country Top 40 yet failed to crack the Top 100 in the U.K. or the Billboard Hot 100.

In 1987, Jones re-entered the singles chart with “A Boy From Nowhere” which went to #2 in the U.K. The following year he covered Prince's “Kiss"” with The Art of Noise. The song was a hit on both sides of the Atlantic, reaching #5 in the U.K. and #31 in the U.S.

Jones received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1989. Jones signed with Interscope Records in 1993 and released the album “The Lead And How To Swing It.” The first single, “If I Only Knew,” went to #11 in the U.K. In 1999 Jones released the album “Reload,” a collection of cover duets with artists such as The Cardigans, Natalie Imbruglia, Cerys Matthews, Van Morrison, Mousse T, Portishead, The Stereophonics, and Robbie Williams. The album went to #1 in the U.K. and sold over four million copies worldwide. Five singles from “Reload” hit the U.K. Top 40.

Throughout 2000 Jones garnered a number of honors for his work including a BRIT Award for Best Male. He was also hired as the new voice of Australia's National Rugby League, singing in an advertisement to market the 2000 season. In 2002 Jones released the album “Mr. Jones,” which was produced by Wyclef Jean. The album and the first single, “Tom Jones International,” were Top 40 hits in the U.K.

Jones received the Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution to Music in 2003. The following year, he teamed up with pianist Jools Holland and released “Tom Jones & Jools Holland,” a roots rock and roll album. It peaked at #5 in the U.K. Jones collaborated with English-born Australian pop singer John Farnham in 2005 and released the live album “John Farnham & Tom Jones - Together In Concert.”

Jones, who was awarded an OBE in 1999, was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2006 at Buckingham Palace for his services to music. In 2008 he released “24 Hours” on S-Curve Records, his first album of new material to be issued in the U.S. in over 15 years.

In March 2009 Jones went to the top of the U.K. Singles chart for the third time in his career thanks to a cover of “Islands in the Stream,” sung with Ruth Jones, Rob Brydon and Robin Gibb, who co-wrote the original with his brothers Barry and Maurice. The song, inspired by BBC's hit sitcom “Gavin and Stacey,” was released in aid of Comic Relief and reached #1 in March 2009.

“Praise & Blame” was released in July 2010. The album, produced by Ethan Johns included covers of songs by Bob Dylan, John Lee Hooker and Billy Joe Shaver, and feature such guest musicians as Booker T. Jones. In August 2010, “Praise & Blame” debuted at #2 on the U.K. Albums chart.

In February 2012 it was announced that a forthcoming single, written with former White Stripes frontman Jack White, would be issued exclusively on three-colored vinyl and would be sold at only one shop - Spillers Records in Cardiff. The shop, from which Jones bought records as a schoolboy in the fifties and early sixties, was founded in 1894 and is listed in the Guinness World Records as the oldest record shop in the world.