Tom Jones is well-known for his deep, sultry voice; his songs topped the charts in both America and the U.K. His first big hit, “It’s Not Unusual,” graced the ears of music fans everywhere in 1965. Before Tom became the mega-star and he had to climb his way up to the top from a small town in South Wales. From there he rose to fame and indulged in all the things that rockstars do. He was a ladies man through and through. But there’s a lot that even fans don’t know about him…
Married At 16
Tom Jones married at the young age of 16 to his high school sweetheart, Melinda “Linda” Trenchard on March 2, 1957. They remained together for nearly 60 years, despite his many well-publicized infidelities, until Trenchard died in 2016, after a “short but fierce” battle with cancer, with Jones canceling concerts at the time.
His firstborn, Mark Woodward, was born one month after Tom married Melinda in 1957. Linda stayed by his side even though she knew about his affairs.
All The Groupies
Tom Jones has stated that he had relations with up to 250 groupies a year at the height of his fame. His philandering once led Linda to assault him physically.
His wife read about one infidelity in a newspaper, after which she punched and kicked Jones out of anger, but he did not fight back; “I took it,” he said. He later said that he felt very guilty about his affairs and infidelities. Despite all this, his wife stayed with him.
A Good Friend To Have
He snuck out his best friend from Venezuela. His best friend from childhood, Dai Perry, who grew up in the same street in Treforest, was also his bodyguard in 1974.
They were in Venezuela, and a scuffle between Dai and reporters transpired. Tom did everything he could to get him on a plane to Miami before the courts opened in the morning and sent him to jail. Now that’s a good friend! It is reported that whenever they met up, Tom would give him an envelope containing £500 in cash.
Friends With Elvis
Tom became a famous singer during an incredibly iconic time in the history of music, which means he’s sung with Janis Joplin, Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin, and John Denver, to name a few.
Tom grew up admiring many of the stars he eventually sang with, and it was in Vegas where Jones struck up a friendship with Elvis Presley. He and Elvis had jobs in Vegas at the same time and would often stay up late singing gospel songs together.
His Son Became His Manager
His firstborn, Mark Woodward, was born one month after Tom married Melinda at the age of 16 in 1957. When Melinda gave birth to Mark, Jones didn’t go to the maternity hospital with her because he had to work the night shift at a local factory where he was an apprentice glove cutter.
Mark eventually became Jones’ Manager, replacing his first Manager Gordon Mills, who discovered him and catapulted him to fame.
The Real Tom Jones
Thomas John Woodward was renamed Tom Jones by his manager, Gordon Mills, to exploit the popularity of the Academy Award-winning 1963 film by Albert Finney. This was quite common for new stars entering the scene, and it still happens today, though not as often.
Many actors and music artists change their names to sound more anglicized, more natural to say or read. Sometimes it is their agents or managers that believe they need a more catchy name or something easily recognizable.
Knighted By The Queen
Jones, who was appointed as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1999, was knighted at Buckingham Palace by Elizabeth II in 2006 for his services to music.
After receiving knighthood, Jones described his experience, “When you first come into show business and get a hit record, it is the start of something. As time goes by it just gets better. This is the best thing I have had. It’s a wonderful feeling, a heady feeling.”
Tubercolosis Was His Saviour
When he was a young boy of 12, he was diagnosed with tuberculosis and he spent two years mostly in bed recovering. Doctors wanted to fly him to Scotland for treatment, but his mother refused, insisting on taking care of him herself.
While Tom was in bed recovering from his life-threatening sickness, he listened to tons of music. If he hadn’t been bed-ridden, he most likely would have been sent to work in the mines like his father, and who knows whether or not he would have ended up where he did. Blessings sometimes come in very strange packages.
His Illegitimate Son
One of his affairs resulted in the birth of a child. While on tour in the US, in October 1987, Jones had a brief relationship with model Katherine Berkery, who then discovered that she was pregnant.
After a legal battle that included DNA testing, a United States court ruled in 1989 that Jones was the father. Jones denied the court’s findings, until, in 2008, he admitted they were true. He has not shown any interest in meeting his son, Jonathan Berkery.
Among his infidelities, Jones also had affairs with well-known women. These relationships are difficult to confirm, but those that we know of include Mary Wilson of the Supremes, TV host and American author Charlotte Laws, and former beauty queen and Miss World, Marjorie Wallace.
In a 2008 interview with Blender magazine, Cassandra Peterson, better known as Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, revealed that her first time was with Jones.
To the surprise of his fans, the star finally stopped coloring his trademark thick curly locks in 2009. He told the Radio Times magazine, ”To each his own.
It isn’t for me to tell others what to do, but you can’t get to a certain age and have black hair. If some can, bless them.” The singer revealed, ”Every Christmas I’d take two months off and never dye my hair. – I should have let it go five years earlier.”
His Big Break
His first hit single “It’s Not Unusual” wasn’t originally written for him. Tom’s manager initially wanted the song to go to Sandie Shaw to sing, but she turned it down not knowing just how well it will do, eventually topping the charts and becoming a number one hit.
Tom pretty much had to beg his manager for the chance to record this song, and we now know that it was the hit that skyrocketed him to fame.
The Voice Coach
Tom Jones also became a coach on The Voice UK when it first aired in 2012. He mentored Leanne Mitchell. Leanne would go on to win the first season. Tom was joined on the coaching panel by returning star will.i.am and newbies Jennifer Hudson and Gavin Rossdale.
They are all hoping to make their mark on the show by coaching a winner. Tom was dropped from the 2016 season – the last to be shown on the BBC. And he sure wasn’t happy about it.
Also A Talented Actor
It would appear that Tom Jones would also become a talented actor and made his first appearance playing the leading role in the 1979 film Pleasure Cove as well as playing himself in Tim Burton’s 1996 film Mars Attacks!
He received a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Musical or Comedy nomination for his role in This is Tom Jones. In 2012, he played a dramatic role in an episode of Playhouse Presents.
He Bought Dean Martin’s Mansion
In 1974 Jones moved his family due to the resentment of Britain’s high taxes. He bought Dean Martin’s house, the legendary Rat Pack crooner having shelled out $500,000 for the place when he married his third and final wife, Catherine Hawn.
When they moved out in June 1976 Martin sold his house to Tom. In 2007 Tom put this Bel Air pad on the market for an eye-watering $6,000,000.
Tom’s First Band
In the fateful year of 1963, Tom started a band called Tommy Scott with the Senators and began his career as a singer. The crowds loved the group, but growth was limited due to their non-urban and distant location.
Tom loved singing, and by this time he knew that this is what he wanted to do. He was waiting for the band to explode onto the public scene but luckily for him, his voice made quite the impression, and he was eventually discovered.
As a school child, he struggled with dyslexia but enjoyed listening to music, including BBC radio, which featured American blues, country, r&b, and rock—genres which later influenced his musical style. Just after his 12th birthday, he was diagnosed with tuberculosis and he spent two years mostly in bed recovering.
Doctors wanted to fly him to Scotland for treatment, but his mother refused, insisting on taking care of him herself. While Tom was in bed recovering from his life-threatening sickness, he listened to tons of music since reading was difficult.
Quit School At 16
As Tom Jones had dyslexia, he never enjoyed school or playing sports and was more interested in booze and girls rather than his education, so he decided to quit school at age 16.
To earn money for his family, he worked as a builder’s laborer and a door-to-door vacuum salesman. It is very likely that the legendary singer would’ve become a miner, like his father, if he was never discovered by Gordon mills that one night in a small town in Wales.
Some Women Turned Him Down
Even at 78, Tom Jones has been dubbed the most attractive singer alive by Glamour magazine in its May 2019 issue. It seems Tom was incredibly alluring to women as he had so many affairs, even with other famous stars who knew that the legendary singer was married.
But Tom didn’t enjoy a 100% seduction rate. Lulu, Sandie Shaw, Dionne Warwick, and Darlene Love all managed to resist his charms.
In 1967 Jones struck up a 45-year romance with Las Vegas – launching his performances at The Flamingo and scoring lucrative contracts with Caeser’s Palace, where his reputation as a performer who women like to throw knickers at was sealed.
Up until 2011, he played at least one week in Vegas every year. He grew to dislike women throwing their undergarments at him on stage, thinking it deflected attention from his voice.
When Tom Jones’ wife passed away from her battle with cancer in 2016, he felt very guilty. She stuck with him through all the affairs and scandals for 60 years.
When she died he felt hopeless as he loved her dearly, “Time is a powerful healer. When something happens that’s so devastating; you don’t know how to deal with everything. But you give it time… things sink in, and you realize: ‘This is the way it’s going to be.’”
His Own Show
Starting in 1969 to 1971, Jones had an internationally successful television show titled This Is Tom Jones. The show was worth a reported $9 million to Jones over three years and was broadcasted in the UK and America.
He was even nominated in 1969 for a Golden Globe for best actor. Then from 1980 to 1981, he had a second television variety show, Tom Jones, that was produced in Vancouver, Canada and lasted for 24 episodes.
Not A Choir Boy
We would think that Tom must’ve been involved in the choir while he was at school, but the truth is, despite being the best singer, Tom preferred to go solo in his home village of Treforest, Pontypridd, in South Wales.
He even pretended to be sick when his friends called round to take him carol singing. When they had gone, he would slip out to perform alone: “I made more money singing by myself,” he said.