Welsh pop idol Sir Tom Jones turns the big 8-0 on Sunday, June 7. Known for his booming voice and his gyrating hips, Jones, born Thomas Woodward, had his first big hit in 1965 with “It’s Not Unusual,” which topped the U.K. charts and #10 on the Billboard Hot 100.
In 1966, the singer won the Grammy Award for Best New Artist.
Through 1971, Jones scored more than a dozen top-40 hits in the U.S. They included the themes to the 1965 comedy flick What’s New Pussycat? and the 1966 James Bond movie Thunderball, as well as “Green, Green Grass of Home,” “Delilah,” “Love Me Tonight,” “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again,” “Without Love (There Is Nothing),” “Daughter of Darkness,” “I (Who Have Nothing)” and “She’s a Lady.”
“What’s New Pussycat?” and “She’s a Lady” were Jones’ highest-charting U.S. singles, peaking at number three and number two in 1971, respectively.
From 1969 to 1971, Jones had his own international variety series, This Is Tom Jones, which featured him performing with such musical guests as Janis Joplin, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Crosby, Still, Nash & Young, Little Richard, Cher and many others.
Jones’ commercial success waned during the 1970s, although he had a comeback hit in 1976 with “Say You’ll Stay Until Tomorrow,” which topped the U.S. country chart and reached #15 on the Hot 100.
Tom’s last U.S. hit was his 1988 collaboration with electronic dance group The Art of Noise on a cover of Prince‘s “Kiss,” which peaked at #31 in the U.S. He continued to have chart success in the U.K. into the 2000s.
He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2005 for services to music. Since 2012, he’s been a coach on nearly every season of the U.K. version of The Voice.
By Matt Friedlander
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