Tom Jones biography - part two

Tom Jones

Clad all in black leather, Tiger Tom soon gained a reputation in the South Wales area as a striking frontman.

It wasn't unusual for him to down 10 or 12 pints of bitter before hitting the stage, but the band weren't too bothered - they were always guaranteed a storming show regardless.

A support slot in Porthcawl, on the bill with Billy J Kramer and the Dakotas, found Tom blowing the headliners off the stage. Indeed, Kramer had to let the Senators have a second set just to keep the crowd happy.

Part of the problem for Tom, though, was his location. The Senators were still all unheard of in London, the base of the music industry.

Two local songwriters, however, offered to help Tom. Raymond Godfrey and John Glastonbury had contacts with London-based music publishers, and had been told to find a group to make a demo with their songs. By chance they saw the Senators playing in Caerphilly, and were immediately blown away.

Godfrey and Glastonbury became the band's managers, and helped them record a demo tape. That year, in 1964, they laid down a few tracks with maverick Telstar producer Joe Meek, and took them to various labels in an attempt to get a record deal. The plan was to release a single, Lonely Joe/I Was A Fool, but the ever-flighty Meek refused to release the tapes.

The frustrated group returned to South Wales and continued to play gigs at dance halls and working mens clubs. One night, at the Top Hat in Cwmtillery, Tom was spotted by Gordon Mills, a London-based manager originally from South Wales.

Gordon later said, "The first few bars were all I needed to hear; they convinced me that here was a voice that could make him the greatest singer in the world".

Gordon Mills struck a deal with Godfrey and Glastonbury, and they gave up managerial responsibility in exchange for five per cent of Tom's future earnings. It would later be the cause of a bitter legal struggle. Mills became Tom's manager, and took the young singer to London.

He also renamed him Tom Jones (there was another Tommy Scott singing in London). The Senators became the Playboys, and later still the Squires. It was the beginning of the second phase in Tom's career.

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