Sunday, July 19, 2015

TAKE TWO: TOM JONES


With his big, booming voice, dazzling showmanship and confident swagger, it's no surprise that Tom Jones became not only one of the biggest pop acts of the '60's and '70's but also a major sex symbol. He's the one that inspired hundreds of women to throw their underwear on stage.  Sure, it may be hard to take Jones seriously after he developed his over-the-top, lounge lizard act but there is no denying his dynamic power as a singer or the deep emotion he poured in to a song.

Thomas Jones Woodward was born in 1940 and raised in Glamorgan, South Wales. As a child, he loved to sing and performed wherever he could; family gatherings, school choir and weddings. Woodward developed his own singing style by listening to his favorite American soul and blues artists. In 1957, he married his high-school sweetheart, Melinda Trenchard after they found themselves in the family way and had a son, Mark. Having to put his musical aspirations on hold to help raise his new family, Woodward worked a number of odd jobs.

A few years later, Woodward returned to music by joining a local band, Tommy Scott and the Senators as the lead vocalist. He played with them for a while before being discovered by Gordon Mills, a manager. He decided to have Woodward change his name to "Tom Jones" due to the popularity of the Oscar-winning 1963 film and got him signed to Decca Records. His first single, "Chills and Fever" failed to generate much interest but the follow-up, "It's Not Unusual" made Jones a pop star overnight. The song hit number one in Britain and the top ten in the U.S. in 1965. Jones followed that up with two popular theme songs to movies, "What's New Pussycat?" and the James Bond film, "Thunderball". Jones would take home the Grammy Award for Best New Artist in 1966.

Mills decided to capitalize on Jones' popularity and got him to perform in Las Vegas in 1967. With the help of half-unbuttoned shirts and very tight pants, Jones caught the frenzied attention of women and became one of the top headling acts in Vegas for many years. Mills also got Jones on television and he hosted a variety show, "This Is Tom Jones" from 1969 to 1971.

By the mid-1970's, Jones was no longer in-demand as a performer but found some success in the 1980's when he began recording country music and had nine songs hit the U.S. Country Top 40. After Gordon Mills passed away in 1986, Jones' son, Mark took over as his manager. He went to work revitalizing his father's career and got him to team-up with avant-garde electronic band, Art of Noise with a remake of Prince's "Kiss" in 1988. This song not only brought Jones back to the pop charts but found him a new generation of fans.

Tom Jones is still quite active at the age of seventy-five recording and touring. He has sold over one hundred million records, making him one of the most successful artists of all time. Despite his over fifty years of marriage to Melinda, Jones has made no secret of his numerous affairs. In fact, he claims to have bedded at least two-hundred and fifty groupies during the height of his career. Here are two of my favorite songs by Mr. Tom Jones:

"It's Not Unusual" - Tom Jones (1965) mp3

"If He Should Ever Leave You" - Tom Jones (2008) mp3

This bonus video features two of the sexiest people alive; Mr. Jones and Miss Tina Turner performing a sizzling duet of "Hot Legs":

NEW SOUNDS

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