Updated: Dec 10, 2021
Tom Jones, in full Sir Tom Jones, original name Thomas John Woodward, (born June 7, 1940, Pontypridd, Wales), Welsh-born singer with broad musical appeal who first came to fame as a sex symbol with a fantastic voice and raucous stage presence. He is known best for his songs “It’s Not Unusual,” “What’s New, Pussycat?,” “Green, Green Grass of Home,” and “Delilah” from the 1960s, but he enjoyed a steady string of hits throughout his half-century-long career.
Woodward began singing at family occasions and community gatherings when he was a child. He married his high-school sweetheart, Melinda Trenchard, in 1957, and they had their only child together that year. In 1963 Woodward began performing as Tommy Scott with the band the Senators, a local Welsh group.
He was awarded the 1966 Grammy for best new artist. In response to bad press regarding his somewhat raunchy stage persona, he attempted to assume a more-sophisticated tone in the late 1960s and found considerable success with his songs “Green, Green Grass of Home” (1966) and “Delilah” (1968).
Jones moved to the U.S. in the late 1960s. In 1969 his variety show, This Is Tom Jones, began airing there as well as in the U.K. The show hosted big names in the music and entertainment business and ran through January 1971.
Jones’s first major foray back into the limelight was with his 1987 performance of Prince’s famous song “Kiss,” which Jones then recorded with the techno-pop band the Art of Noise. That song introduced Jones to a new audience and opened new avenues for his career. His 1994 album The Lead and How to Swing It, a pop-dance album, was well received and was followed by the critically successful Reload in 1999. The latter was composed of covers of contemporary songs on which he collaborated with other musicians such as the Cranberries, Stereophonics, and Barenaked.
In 2002 he and musician Wyclef Jean worked together on Jones’s album Mr. Jones. In 2006 Jones was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II. His 2010 album Praise & Blame was a mix of gospel, blues, spirituals, and folk music and earned him stellar reviews, and his Spirit in the Room (2012)—covers of songs by musicians such as Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, and Paul Simon—was also well received. He became a judge (2012–15; 2017– ) for the U.K. version of the singing competition television show The Voice. In 2015 Jones published Over the Top and Back: The Autobiography and released the album Long Lost Suitcase.
When his long-time manager, Mills, died in 1986, Jones’s son took over and reshaped his father’s public image.
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