Whether loving them outright or appreciating them for their slightly hokey nature, people around the world have enjoyed hits like “It’s Not Unusual” and “Delilah”. While initially popular in the UK, the Welsh native is a true icon that has grown to be appreciated throughout the globe. With a six decade long career under his belt and countless Tom Jones tribute shows in his name, his stardom is undeniable. You’d be hard pressed to find someone that isn’t familiar with his work on some level. Of course, there’s a lot more to Jones’ background than just his hits however. His musical background also dips into styles such as gospel, rock, country, dance, and innumerable others.
In fact, Tom was trying to gear his career into more of a rock based sound as of 1964. That particular endeavor didn’t exactly work out, however. As he pressed on, the breaking point inevitably came in the form of “Chills & Fever”, a particularly unsuccessful attempt to tap into the same vein as other burgeoning hard rock acts of the era. The song ultimately fell on its face, resulting in a rough patch that left Jones questioning his entire career path.
It wouldn’t be long before the right approach presented itself however. Gordon Mills, Jones’ manager and trusted colleague, found him a job working out a rough track for the successful Sandy Shaw to follow in the studio. Guide tracks are often used to help singers deliver a performance as intended, while also staying in key. The song they were working on was the legendary “It’s Not Unusual”. Tom became enamored with the track, realizing quickly that he should fight to perform on the master recording himself. Inevitably, Sandy Shaw and Mills both agreed, and the song was released as both a major hit single and a track on Tom’s debut album in 1965. The song was an instant success, and it set the course for the rest of Jones’ life from then on.
The decades that followed showed Tom dabbling in all sorts of different musical endeavors, and he very rarely took any extended breaks from performing. He even entered the acting world in various ways. His name may not have remained on the lips of the music press at all times, but he has never been forgotten, and he still performs even now. Tis is largely as a means to honor his own legacy and also keep going after the passing of his wife in 2015.