Sir Thomas John Woodward, known by his stage name Tom Jones, is a Welsh singer. He became one of the most popular vocalists to emerge from the mid-1960s. Since then he has sung nearly every form of popular music – pop, rock, R&B, show tunes, country, dance, soul and gospel – and sold over 100 million records.
Tom Jones was born Thomas John Woodward, at 57 Kingsland Terrace, Treforest, Pontypridd in Glamorgan, South Wales. His parents were Thomas Woodward (died 5 October 1981), a coal miner, and Freda Jones (died 7 February 2003). His paternal grandfather, James Woodward, was an ironmonger's haulier from Gloucestershire, and his paternal grandmother was from Wiltshire. His maternal grandfather was Welsh, and his maternal grandmother, Ada Jones, was born in Pontypridd, to parents from Somerset and Wiltshire.
Jones began singing at an early age: he would regularly sing at family gatherings, weddings and in his school choir. Jones did not like school or sports but gained confidence through his singing talent. At 12 he was diagnosed with tuberculosis. Many years later he said: "I spent two years in bed recovering. It was the worst time of my life." During convalescence he could do little else but listen to music and draw.
Jones, whose voice has been described as a "full-throated, robust baritone", 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.
The group continued to play gigs at dance halls and working men's clubs in South Wales and one night, at the Top Hat in Cwmtillery, Wales, Jones was spotted by Gordon Mills, a London-based manager who originally hailed from South Wales himself. Mills became Jones' manager and took the young singer to London, and also renamed him Tom Jones, to exploit the popularity of the Academy Award winning 1963 film.
Eventually Mills got Jones a recording contract with Decca. His first single, "Chills and Fever", was released in late 1964. It did not chart, but the follow-up, "It's Not Unusual" became an international hit after offshore pirate radio station Radio Caroline promoted it. The following year would be the most prominent of Jones's career, making him one of the most popular vocalists of the British Invasion. In early 1965 "It's Not Unusual" reached number one in the United Kingdom and the top ten in the United States. During 1965 Mills secured a number of film themes for Jones to record including the themes for the film What's New Pussycat? (written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David) and for the James Bond film Thunderball. Jones was also awarded the Grammy Award for Best New Artist for 1966. In Hollywood, Jones met Elvis Presley for the first time who he recalls singing his song as he walked towards him on set.
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.
In 1967 Jones performed in Las Vegas for the first time, 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 sexually charged adulation and good-time entertainment. Women started throwing hotel room keys onto the stage. Jones and his idol Elvis Presley met in 1965 at the Paramount film stage, when Elvis was filming Paradise, Hawaiian Style.They became good friends.
Jones had an internationally successful television variety show titled This Is Tom Jones from 1969 to 1971. The ATV-produced show, which was worth a reported $9m to Jones over three years, was broadcast by ITV in the UK and by ABC in America. As a result of the show, Jones was nominated in 1969 for a Golden Globe for "best actor". From 1980 to 1981 he had a second television variety show, the eponymous Tom Jones, that was produced in Vancouver, Canada and lasted for 24 episodes.
In 1970, Jones teamed up with Raquel Welch and Producer/Choreographer David Winters of Winters-Rosen Productions for the TV special Raquel!. The multi-million dollar TV song & dance extravaganza was filmed around the world and included production numbers of classic songs from the era, lavish costumes and guest performances from Jones, John Wayne and Bob Hope.
In the early 1970s Jones toured with the female singing group Quiet Elegance as his backing group. He 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 No. 1 on the US country chart and No. 15 on the Billboard Hot 100.
In the early 1980s Jones started to record country music. From 1980 to 1986 he had nine songs in the US country top 40 yet failed to crack the top 100 in the UK or the Billboard Hot 100. After Jones' manager Gordon Mills died of cancer on 29 July 1986, Jones' son Mark became his manager. In 1987, Tom Jones re-entered the singles chart with "A Boy From Nowhere" which went to No. 2 in the United Kingdom. The following year he covered Prince's "Kiss" with The Art of Noise. The song reached No. 5 in the UK and No. 31 in the US. The video for "Kiss" was much seen on MTV and VH1, and won the MTV Video Music Award for Breakthrough Video.
United States President Bill Clinton invited Jones to perform on New Year's Eve at the 2000 millennium celebrations in Washington, D.C.. Throughout 2000 Jones garnered a number of honours for his work including a BRIT Award for Best British 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 UK.
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 'n' roll album. It peaked at No. 5 in the UK.
On 28 May 2005, in celebration of his approaching 65th birthday, Jones returned to his homeland to perform a concert in Ynysangharad Park, Pontypridd before a crowd of about 20,000. This was his first performance in Pontypridd since 1964. That same year the BBC reported that Jones was Wales' wealthiest entertainer, having amassed a fortune of £175 million. Jones collaborated with English-born Australian pop singer John Farnham in 2005 and released the live album John Farnham & Tom Jones - Together In Concert. The following year Jones worked with Chicane and released the dance track "Stoned in Love", which went to No. 7 in the UK Singles Chart.
Jones, who was awarded an OBE in 1999, was knighted by Elizabeth II in 2006 at Buckingham Palace for his services to music. "When you first come into show business and get a hit record, it is the start of something", Jones said. "As time goes by it just gets better. This is the best thing I have had. It's a wonderful feeling, a heady feeling."
On 1 July 2007 Jones was among the invited artists who performed at Wembley Stadium at the Concert for Diana, joined on stage by guitarist Joe Perry of Aerosmith and British soul singer Joss Stone.
In 2008 he released 24 Hours on S-Curve Records, his first album of new material to be issued in the US for over 15 years. Jones, who was still performing over 200 dates a year as he approached his 70th birthday, set out on a world tour to promote the album. "The fire is still in me. Not to be an oldie, but a goodie. I want to be a contender", Jones said. In 2008 also Tom Jones was inducted into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame. On 16 November 2008 Jones was invited to perform on BBC's Strictly Come Dancing. He performed the debut single from 24 Hours, "If He Should Ever Leave You", which was named the 9th best song of 2008 by Spinner. One of the songs from 24 Hours, "Give a Little Love", would later be featured in the first trailer for Little Fockers.
In February 2009 he did an exclusive Take-Away Show with Vincent Moon, performing three songs live in front of a camera in a New York hotel room. In 2009 Jones was voted "Sexiest Man In The World" in the Hungarian magazine Periodika.
In March 2009 Jones went to the top of the UK Music Charts 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 No. 1 in March 2009.
On Jones' 70th birthday, 7 June 2010, the single "Burning Hell", a cover of the John Lee Hooker classic, from the forthcoming Praise & Blame album, was released. By 2010, Jones had sold over 100 million records.
Jones released a single on 19 March 2012, written with former White Stripes frontman Jack White, called Evil. The single was first made available through independent record stores in 7" vinyl on 5 March. An exclusive three-coloured vinyl was also sold at only one shop – Spillers Records in Cardiff. The shop, from which Jones bought records as a schoolboy in the 1950s and early 1960s, was founded in 1894 and is listed in the Guinness World Records as the oldest record shop in the world.
From March 2012 Jones has appeared on the BBC talent show The Voice UK, where he is a coach alongside Jessie J, will.i.am and Danny O'Donoghue of The Script. He mentored Leanne Mitchell to win the competition. Jones will return for the third series in 2014 along with wil.i.am, but Jessie J and Danny O'Donoghue will be replaced by Kylie Minogue and Ricky Wilson.
On 9 September 2012, Jones headlined at BBC Radio 2's Live in Hyde Park festival.