Thursday, February 26, 2009

Tom Jones

Tom Jones

Sir Thomas John Woodward OBE (born 7 June 1940), known by his stage name Tom Jones, is a Welsh singer-songwriter, particularly noted for his powerful voice and wide vocal range. He was born in Trefforest, Pontypridd, near Cardiff in Wales.

Since 1965, Jones has sold over 100 million records.

Jones rose to fame in the 1960s, with an exuberant live act that included wearing tight pants or trousers and billowing shirts, in an Edwardian style popular among his peers at the time. He was known for his overt sexuality before it became a common theme among pop artists.

In 1963 Jones became the frontman for Tommy Scott and The Senators, a local beat group. Clad in black leather, he soon gained a reputation in the South Wales area of the United Kingdom, although the Senators were still unknown in London.

In 1964 they laid down seven tracks with maverick "Telstar" producer Joe Meek, and took them to various labels in an attempt to get a record deal, with no success. The plan was to release a single, "Lonely Joe / I Was A Fool", but the ever-flighty Meek refused to release the tapes. Only after "It's Not Unusual" became a massive hit was Meek able to sell the tapes to Tower (USA) and Columbia (UK). The group returned to South Wales and continued to play gigs at dance halls and working men's clubs. One night, at the Top Hat in Cwmtillery, Jones was spotted by Gordon Mills, a London-based manager originally from South Wales. Mills became Jones's manager, and took the young singer to London. He also renamed him "Tom Jones," an ingenious moniker that not only linked the singer to the image of the title character - a good-looking, low-born stud, portrayed in Tony Richardson's film of Henry Fielding's The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, which was a huge contemporary hit - but also subtly emphasized his nationality. Gordon Mills gave many rock stars their stage names, among them Engelbert Humperdinck (born Arnold George Dorsey). The Senators became the Playboys, and later still the Squires. It was the beginning of the second phase in Jones's career.

Record companies were finding his style and delivery to be too abrasive and raw. Jones's vocals were considered to be too raucous, and he moved like Elvis (whom he later cited as one of his influences). But eventually, Decca rekindled their early interest, and Jones recorded his first single, "Chills And Fever" in late 1964.