Tom Jones is one of the most famous music artists of all time, thanks in large part to hit songs like What’s New Pussycat? She’s A Lady, and It’s Not Unusual. His deep, unique voice and incredible stage presence would rocket him to stardom despite not particularly being a prolific recording artist, allowing him to sell over 100 million records throughout his career and become one of the most well-known and long-lived performers of all time.
In this article, we’ll go over some interesting and fun facts about him, including some things about him that you might not know.
Tom Jones Was Born in Wales
Jones was born July 7, 1940, in Pontypridd, Wales as Thomas John Woodward. His father was a coal miner, a profession he wouldn’t get into. While he was never good in school or interested in sports, his musical career would eventually take care of all of that.
Tom Jones Actually Married His Childhood Sweetheart
He and Linda Trenchard dated while they were in high school. At the age of 16, they found out they were expecting their first—and only—child together. They would quickly get married at 16 before their son, Mark, was born. The two would remain married until her death in 2016, and Mark would not be his only child. He would have a son with model Katherine Berkery named Jonathan.
He Was A Sex Symbol, Both In Title And In Practice
While Jones remained married to Linda for the rest of her life, it was a well-known fact that he stepped outside of their marriage countless times. If you believe his account, he slept with over 250 women per year when he was at the peak of his fame. But it wasn’t just groupies he was able to charm, famous women would inevitably also be wooed by him, including the likes of Miss World Marjorie Wallace.
It would be his brief relationship with Katherine Berkery that would give him another child. While touring in the US, the two had a short fling, with her finding out she was pregnant after he had left. He disputed the fatherhood of his son, but in 1989, DNA tests proved he was in fact the father. He would dispute the court findings until 2008, finally admitting it was true but not pressing for a reunion.
Tom Jones Had An Interesting Start To His Music Career
Jones began singing at the age of 12, mainly performing at family events and community gatherings. At that age, he contracted tuberculosis and was essentially quarantined to a bed for two years. During this time, he had little else to do other than listen to music, sing, and draw. While the disease and being bedridden was terrible, it ended up saving him from being sent to work in the mines like his father, eventually allowing him to have the music career of his dreams.
While he would drop out of school and work manual jobs—including spending some time in a glove factory—after the birth of his first son, at 17, he would return to music. He used his incredible singing voice to land gigs singing in clubs at night, eventually making a living from those live shows and earning a deal with Decca Records.
His first single Chills And Fever ended up not breaking onto the charts, but the follow-up single It’s Not Unusual was a major hit and would become one of his signature songs. It ended up making it to the number-one spot on the UK Singles Chart and broke into the top 10 of the US charts in 1965. It was unusual though because the track wasn’t originally meant for him. It was meant to go to Sandie Shaw, but he begged for the song after she rejected it, which became one of the best decisions of his career.
It Wasn’t His Records That Made Him Famous, It Was His Stage Presence
Jones’s first records were fairly unimpressive. They didn’t perform poorly enough for him to lose his recording contracts, but they weren’t anything to sneeze at either. What earned him a record deal in the first place, and something that would become the hallmark of his career, was his raucous, flamboyant, and energetic stage presence.
Even for him, recording was a secondary part of his career. He loved to perform on stage, spending at least one week singing in Las Vegas every year from 1967 until 2011. For many of us, stage performances in Las Vegas are the thing we know about him.
Tom Jones’s Music Career Has Lasted For Half A Century
His music career is one of the best to have ever happened, though it did have ups and downs throughout the years. From 1967 to 1987, he would perform in Las Vegas, star in several television shows, and go on tour while producing hit songs like She’s A Lady, The Young New Mexican Puppeteer, and Till. In the 70s, his popularity saw a decline, but that wouldn’t last long.
After he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1989, he would again appear in the spotlight of both the music and television worlds. But he would remain a relevant singer to the present day, recording music and being invited to perform at some of the best and biggest concerts and benefits in the world. Perhaps his most recent well-known accolades come from being a coach on the TV show The Voice in the UK.
In total, he would score 36 Top 40 hits in the US and UK, sell well over 100 million records in his career, and bring home countless numbers of awards from prestigious ceremonies such as the Grammys, MTV Video Music Awards, and BRIT Awards.
Tom Jones Is Actually A Knight
He has earned many accolades and won many awards throughout his career. His honors in the music world are nearly boundless. He has been inducted into the American Songwriters Hall of Fame and won several BRIT Awards for excellence in music, and those honors leave out his roles on-screen and in animated shows like The Simpsons.
Jones was even knighted by Her Majesty The Queen in 2006. He would celebrate his knighthood again in 2012, receiving an invitation and performing at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee concert at Buckingham Palace. He also sang at her 92nd birthday party.
Tom Jones Was A Golden Globe Actor
He was more than a singer, his stage presence made him an excellent host for a variety show. From 1969 to 1971, he starred in the internationally successful television variety show titled This Is Tom Jones. Broadcast in both the UK and the US, it made him an international television star. In 1970, his role on the show even saw him earn a nomination for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor In A Television Series – Musical Or Comedy despite him not playing an actual acting role in the show.
Jones was meant to make his film debut in 1976 as a CIA assassin in the movie Yockowald. Unfortunately, that production ran out of money three weeks into the project and ended up being scrapped. He had to wait three more years to make his real acting debut. In 1979, he would be included in Pleasure Cove, an ABC television film that served as the pilot episode of a potential series that was not picked up.
Tom Jones Was A Great Solo Act, But His List of Collaborations is Stunning
Tom Jones was one of the major artists who started the trend of Las Vegas residencies replacing tour dates. And his proximity to the city allowed him to meet with and sing alongside some very big names in the music industry. On stage, he has performed alongside the likes of Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin, and John Denver. He frequently sang with Elvis off-stage as well, as the two were both employed in Las Vegas around the same time.
Tom Jones Left The UK As A Tax Exile
While on tour in the US, the UK ended up electing a Labour Party government. Jones’s accountant advised him not to return to the UK, as his large income would have been subject to a 98% income tax in his homeland. This began a long journey for him, essentially becoming a tax exile, and saw him live outside of his Welsh home country for over 40 years.
It never stopped him from returning to film or tour in the UK, however, his tax status in the 70s is the main reason he became an American and ended up living in Los Angeles.
As a contributing writer for Music Grotto, Dakotah writes and produces professional music/media content. He works closely with editorial staff to meet editorial standards and create
quality content for the Music Grotto website. Dakotah is passionate about music in a wide variety of genres, from hip-hop to country and lo-fi to metal, and he enjoys creating music pieces for Music Grotto.