AKA Thomas Jones Woodward
Birthplace: Pontypridd, Wales
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Executive summary: It's Not Unusual
His father was a coal miner, and his Welsh family was steeped in the traditions of poetry and songs. As a boy, Tom Jones sang in his church choir, and at home his mother would pull the curtains and "announce him", and the lad would sing show tunes for his parents and sister. A ladies' man early on, Jones was 16 when he got his high school girlfriend pregnant. They married, and have remained together ever since -- though Jones has admitted that at the height of his fame, he slept with up to 250 groupies a year.
As a young man he worked at a glove factory, and later he toiled in construction. He sometimes sang at parties, and noticed that women seemed particularly entertained, and the more energetic his performance the more they seemed to love it. Soon he was performing at local night clubs, where he was discovered by the man who would be his longtime manager, Gordon Mills. His second single, "It's Not Unusual", established Jones as a star, and it has remained his signature tune. In the first decades of his long career, his other hits included "Delilah", "The Green Green Grass of Home", "Help Yourself", "Never Fall In Love Again", "What's New Pussycat", and "Without Love". In the late 1960s, Jones had a top-rated prime-time variety hour on ABC, and decades before cable fragmented the audience, many millions of fans watched every week. He became a sex symbol of almost unprecedented dimension.
During a 1968 engagement at the Copacabana Club in New York, the air conditioning was not working well and Jones, as always giving every song everything he had, was drenched in his own perspiration. Between numbers, several women in the audience offered him their cocktail napkins to wipe his face. But one woman lifted her dress, removed her underwear, and handed that to Jones on stage. He says he was flabbergasted, but he wiped his face with it, and handed the woman her underwear back. A gossip columnist was present, and after the incident was mentioned in the next day's newspaper, throwing panties onto the stage became the thing to do at Jones's concerts.
When Gordon Mills died in 1986, Jones's son became his new manager, and he has overseen a resurgence in his father's career. In 1988, Jones scored a huge hit with Art of Noise, belting out a sweaty version of Prince's "Kiss". More recent hits from the latter half of Jones' career include "Sexbomb", "Baby It's Cold Outside", and a reworking of Joe Cocker's "Mama Told Me Not To Come".
He sang the theme for the James Bond film Thunderball with Sean Connery. Legend has it that after recording the number, including the protracted ear-smashing last note, Jones passed out.
Despite the similarities between the sexy, singing Jones and the sexually provocative protagonist of the novel Tom Jones by Henry Fielding, the singer did not choose the name to cash in on his literary namesake. "Jones" was his mother's maiden name, and his own middle name.
Jones drinks Dom Perignon, listens to Solomon Burke, enjoys watching boxing and playing darts, and counts Van Morrison and the late Elvis Presley as lifelong friends. Today he still tours nine months every year, and his style remains glitzy, schmaltzy, even campy. He still sings in very tight pants, still makes women swoon, and still dodges flying panties at every show.
Father: Thomas John Woodward (coal miner, d. 5-Oct-1981)
Mother: Freda Jones (homemaker, d. 7-Feb-2003 cancer)
Sister: Sheila Woodward
Wife: Linda Trenchard (dated in high school, m. Mar-1957, one son)
Son: Mark Woodward (b. 11-Apr-1957, Jones's manager since 1986)
Mistress: Mary Wilson (The Supremes, two-year affair in the 1970s)
Slept with: Elvira
High School: Treforest Secondary Modern School, Pontypridd, Glamorgan, UK
Grammy 1965 Best New Artist
Officer of the British Empire 1999 New Year's Honours List
Knight of the British Empire 2006
Gaming Hall of Fame 2003
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