Tom Jones biography part one

Tom Jones

Tiger Tom the Twisting Vocalist. Sex Bomb. Little Tommy Woodward from Treforest.

In his time he's tried his hand at styles including pop, rock, country, big band, dance and jazz, and he's still going strong today.

Born Thomas John Woodward on 7 June 1940, Tom began singing at an early age. It wasn't unusual in the valleys towns of South Wales. But the boy was clearly something special: he'd regularly sing at family gatherings, weddings and his mother's Women's Guild meetings.

He also sang in his school choir, although it's said he was once told off for drowning out the rest of them as they sang Men Of Harlech in school assembly.

By the late 1950s Tom had become entranced by the new rock 'n' roll sounds coming from the radio. In his teens he was becoming something of a tearaway, missing school, drinking and chasing girls.

Tom began courting Melinda Trenchard, a local Catholic girl known as Linda. Soon after, however, he was struck down by tuberculosis and bed-ridden for almost a year. It was a critical time for him, but he could do little else but listen to music and draw.

At 16 Tom left school. He married Linda the following year, one month before their son Mark was born. At the time, Tom was working nights in a paper mill, a situation which paid fairly well but was getting in the way of his singing. Something had to give. He gave up working at the mill.

In 1963 he became the frontman for Tommy Scott and the Senators, a local beat group whose former singer Tommy Redman preferred singing ballads. Scott later became a welder in Treforest.

The band's leader Vernon Hopkins lured Tom away from his usual drinking spot after Redman failed to show up one night, and with the help of a crate of beer persuaded him to perform with the Senators at the local YMCA.

It was supposed to be a one-off, but Tom was bitten by the bug. After brief dalliances with playing guitar and drums, he had found his real musical strength: his voice.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.