Tom Jones past: How Sir Tom ‘changed’ after making it big in LA – ‘Can’t go down the pub’
Sir Tom Jones had the true rise to fame many are desperate to emulate. He went from being a labourer in Pontypridd, Wales, with a wife and son, to a global superstar. But as a result things had to change, which meant he had to leave his previous life behind.
Speaking exclusively to Tom Jones biographer Colin Macfarlane, who has just released his new book, Sir Tom Jones: 80, Mr Macfarlane spoke about how for Sir Tom, he had to leave his past behind in more ways than one to become a singing sensation.
Mr Macfarlane said: “The problem is fame changes you and you can’t do the things you did before.
“He couldn’t go the local pub for a pint of beer or something like that because he was too famous.
“He didn’t turn up here after It’s Not Unusual, the whole Tom Town of Treforest had a party and all that, but I think fame changes to you to such an extent you can never be the same again.
“Especially hanging about with Sinatra and Elvis and the next minute… it’s impossible to go down the pub and drink with all the guys you’ve known over the years.”
However, there was one person who Sir Tom could relate to in this time – his manager Gordon Mills.
Mills himself came from a similar life and was a bus conductor from nearby Rhonnda.
Mr Macfarlane said: “Gordon was just a bus conductor from Rhonnda and Tom was a labourer from Pontypridd.
“So if you actually take those two characters over to America and mix them with the likes of Elvis Presley, it must have been an incredible experience.
“Absolutely mental, you couldn’t really write it… because no one would believe it.”
Sir Tom certainly did rub shoulders with some greats, including the likes of Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Little Richard, and Elvis Presley, with whom Sir Tom had a great relationship.
In fact, Sir Tom even told a story of catching Elvis with his trousers down, quite literally, in a very intimate moment in Sir Tom’s dressing room.
He told Conan O’Brien in 2015: “He was at the Hilton in Las Vegas and I was at Caesars Palace and he used to stay on, as we used to do a month and we used to overlap.
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“So after he finished his month he would stay to watch me and he would come to the show most nights.
“This one time he had this song somebody had tried to pitch to him. So he was in the wings and when I came off the stage he was like, ‘Oh I’ve got this song man,’ and I was like, ‘I’ve got to jump into the shower.’
“I went into the shower and I was washing my hair and I hear…”
At this point, Sir Tom began to shake his hand in an Elvis way, while singing in a fantastic Elvis impression.
He continued: “I’m thinking, ‘I’m hearing Elvis Presley in the shower now – I’m going nuts here!’
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“So when I got the soap out of my eyes, he was over the shower door – he was right there, and I said ‘Elvis, I’ll be right there!’”
With this, O’Brien was totally shocked and laughing, but the story got even stranger.
Sir Tom described how Elvis continued to sing to him, before he added: “I got out of the shower and I say he’d been to the toilet in my bathroom while I was in the shower.
“He was wearing a North Beach leather outfit – a lot of us used to – and they weren’t lined, they were just natural leather.
“So he was standing there, cleaning up and looking in the mirror. So I’m naked and he’s half naked.”
At this, O’Brien was shocked to hear Elvis had not even pulled his trousers up while they were having a conversation.
Sir Tom implored fans to believe him, before continuing: “His pants are down round his ankles. So he’s standing there, singing this song to me.
“I’m trying to towel down and I said, ‘You know, Elvis, your pants.’ And he went, ‘Red!’ because he had a bodyguard called Red.
“So Red busts through the door thinking there’s something wrong… but Elvis says, ‘My pants, man.’”
However, Sir Tom explained he had to pull up Elvis’ trousers due to the tight leather, not just because he was “too celebrity” to pull up his own.
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