Tom Jones, The Unusual Star With The Biggest Voice: Stories

By | June 6, 2020

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Tom Jones performing in Atlanta in 1977. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Roaring out of Wales with a show-stopping baritone, Tom Jones became famous for songs like "It's Not Unusial" and "What's New Pussycat?" A contemporary of '60s rock icons like the Beatles and Rolling Stones -- and technically a member of the British Invasion himself -- Jones took a different career path, becoming a sex symbol, Vegas act, and TV variety show host. Jones' '70s image, with open shirt, hairy chest, and extremely tight trousers, was over-the-top, but appealing at the time. After all, if you're showered with panties every time you take the stage, someone must think you're doing it right.

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Tom Jones with his wife, Linda. Source: (pinterest)

The Son Of A Coal Miner Rises To Fame

Tom Jones was born in Potyyprid, South Wales in 1940, to a father who worked in the coal mines. They feared he might be stillborn because he did not cry when he was born, so his grandmother held him by his ankles, dunked him in a bucket of cold water, and then swung him around over her head. After this auspicious beginning, he dropped out of school at 15 and sang in nightclubs while doing manual labor in a glove factory and construction during the day. In Wales, he sang R&B covers with a band he led called Tommy Scott and the Senators. At that point, Jones, who had been born Thomas Woodward, had the stage name Tommy Scott. He lied to his manager, Gordon Mill, telling him that he was a 22 year-old single coal miner. In reality, he was 24, the son of a coal miner, and had been married since 17. He had a son, Mark, with Linda before they married in 1957.Once he found a manager and launched his career in 1964, he changed his stage name to Tom Jones and recorded his debut album. Gordon Mill chose the name, hoping to cash in on the popularity of a 1963 movie of the same name. His first hit came with “It’s Not Unusual.”