In today’s pop-culture landscape, it might seem a tad unusual to refer to Tom Jones as a sex symbol, but that status has followed the Welsh icon for half a century and his legendary live shows have long involved female fans flinging their underwear onto the stage. “I think I was a sex symbol as soon as I started singing,” Jones told CBS News in 2016.
Born into a coal-mining family, Jones grew up on American blues and rock, and sang in church and choir before dropping out of school at the age of 15. By 16, he was married with a child and working odd jobs — including selling vacuum cleaners door-to-door — while gigging in clubs with his band Tommy Scott and the Senators.
After being discovered by songwriter and music manager Gordon Mills, his career took off almost immediately, landing high on the British and American charts with 1965’s “It’s Not Unusual” and following that smash with memorable theme songs for the swinging ’60s comedy What’s New Pussycat?
and the James Bond classic Thunderball
. Aired in both the U.S. and the U.K. during the late ’60s and early ’70s, the TV variety show This Is Tom Jones
cemented his celebrity and fed into a Las Vegas era encircled by the likes of Elvis.
In his post-heyday decades, Jones has done an admirable job of staying relevant, collaborating with the avant-pop British outfit Art of Noise in the ’80s (on a humorous adaptation of Prince’s “Kiss”), playing himself on The Simpsons, releasing the covers album Reload
in 1999 (fueled by the cheeky, original single “Sex Bomb”), teaming up with Wyclef Jean for the 2003 album Mr. Jones
, hitting the dance floor with trance act Chicane for the 2006 hit “Stoned in Love,” and becoming a judge on the BBC reality competition series The Voice
in 2012. Knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2006, the 77-year-old “panty magnet” arrives in San Antonio with (fairly) recent accolades for his 41st album Long Lost Suitcase and his first autobiography, Over the Top and Back
$59.50-$125, Thu May 17, 8pm, The Majestic Theatre, 224 E. Houston St., (210) 226-3333, majesticempire.com.
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