Legendary singer Tom Jones, 80, releases new album but not ready for a tell-all biopic

  • Music
  • Friday, 28 May 2021

Tom Jones released his 41st studio album, 'Surrounded By Time', last month. Photo: Handout

selling vacuum cleaners to selling millions of records and from his high-profile friendships to his Casanova image, music legend Tom Jones’ life is ripe for a biopic.

After the success of Bohemian Rhapsody (Freddie Mercury) and Rocket Man (Elton John), Jones seems a safe bet for a hit.

But while there are indeed talks about doing one, the British singer admitted that he’s still unsure if he can go into great detail about his intriguingly colourful career and personal life.

“Well, there has been talk of it, yes. But then I would have to tell all. And I don’t think I’m ready for a tell-all yet, you know what I mean?” he said in a recent interview on British comedian Alan Carr’s podcast Life’s A Beach. “We’re still thinking about it.”

The 80-year-old recording artiste doesn’t have anyone particular in mind yet as to who will play him in the potential biopic.

But if he could have it his way, he would rather a full-time actor do it than an actor-singer.

“The best thing to do is get a really good actor. You have got to get an actor to play the part. And then, for the music, you get somebody else, ” he said.

“I can either do (the music) myself or have somebody who can do a soundalike – there are Tom Jones soundalikes out there. You know, younger fellas. But the acting is the important part.”

Compelling material

In any case, there will be no shortage of compelling material.

Known for his booming baritone, Jones rose to fame in the 1960s and has since sold over 100 million records and scored dozens of hits worldwide, such as It’s Not Unusual, What’s New Pussycat, Delilah, She’s A Lady and Sex Bomb.

He also has a number of awards under his belt, including best new artiste at the 1966 Grammy Awards.

The singer’s longevity is attributed to his musical “shapeshifting” skills, which allowed him to dabble in various genres – pop, gospel, R&B, dance and country.

In 1999, he was hailed as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire, and then knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2006 for his “services to music”.

He worked with other legends like Janis Joplin and his good friend Elvis Presley.

At the peak of his career, Jones had affairs with several women and claimed to have slept with 250 groupies.

Female fans threw panties at him during his shows. But even then, he stayed married to his wife, Melinda Trenchard – the “only woman he loved” – until her death in 2016.

And despite his rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, he made sure he had eight hours of sleep – it didn’t matter if it was Elvis asking for a drink.

“You have got to be careful with drinking. I have always looked at my watch and known when I have got to get to bed. When I was in Las Vegas, playing two shows a night, I would have Elvis Presley come over,” he related.

“I was at Caesars Palace. After he had finished his thing at the Hilton, he would come over to my shows both nights. But I would tell him I needed to go to bed.”

This also earned him the moniker “Tommy Eight Hours” from the band Stereophonics’ Kelly Jones.

“He asked me how I have kept my voice, and I said it’s because I get eight hours of sleep every night,” said Jones, who’s currently one of the coaches in The Voice UK.

Divine intervention

Maybe the biopic can also touch on that time a “divine intervention” saved his life, after being stranded in shark-infested waters in Acapulco, Mexico.“I wandered off like a fool, looked at the calm waters and thought it looked lovely out there. I go through the breakers and start swimming out, then someone comes looking for me, standing on the beach, ” recalled the singer, who found himself drifting farther and farther out.

He clutched on his crucifix necklace, which he usually kept inside his bag.

“I put my hand on it and said, ‘God, I’m desperate here. What do I do?’

“I was going to give up. I thought I would take a load of water in and say good night. But then, a voice came to me and said, ‘If you think you can swim, now is the time to prove it.’

“So I start to head toward the beach, head down, ” he related.

Before long, Jones got caught in a breaking wave that “tossed him onto the beach” – luckily without breaking his neck.

“Then, I talked to real swimmers, who said the undertow was taking me out to sea. You had to go left or right, or you will never make it, ‘There was no way you must have had some divine thing, ’ they told me. ‘It was not your time to go’.”

But while the biopic remains to be seen, the crooner’s fans will have some new music to enjoy. Last month, he released his 41st studio album, Surrounded By Time.

The past five years had been full of “enormous personal changes”, he wrote on Instagram. But during the lockdown, he finally found “the need to express myself through music”.

“Each song tells a story that comes from me and reflects my own experience at some point or another. It has been a helluva ride, and I’m really, really proud of this record, ” Jones said. – Philippine Daily Inquirer/Asia News Network

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