The memoir of the resilient career of a singer who knows how closely he succumbed to self-parody.
Jones knows how most people think of him: “Tom Jones: panty magnet.” With a tone that suggests that he never takes himself too seriously but knows that he deserves to be taken more seriously as an artist, he relates how the ritual started with one uninhibited female fan and how he instinctively wiped the sweat from his brow and handed them back to her. Thus began a ritual that would become more the focus of a Tom Jones show than the music, with countless women bringing along an extra pair of underwear just to toss. From his days as the teenage son of a Welsh coal miner, Tommy Woodward—later “Twisting Tommy Scott” before settling on the stage name he would ride to fame—knew that he had a powerful voice and that there was an animal magnetism to his presence, though occasionally he found himself the prey of men who could do something for him but wanted something back. He was a huge fan of Jerry Lee Lewis (on whose album he first heard “Green, Green Grass of Home”) and thought Elvis Presley was comparatively contrived. But though he had the voice and soul of a rocker, his career path ended up taking him through the theater circuit and TV, with novelty numbers like, “What’s New Pussycat?” Though he’s not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he claims, “there’s more rock ’n’ roll in me than there is in 90%” of those in there. In attitude and anecdote, his engaging and illuminating book backs him up. Perhaps most impressive is the love story with the woman he married almost 60 years ago—after a teenage pregnancy—and the artistic command he has shown in recent years, since he stopped dyeing his hair and started paying more attention to the quality of his material than its pelvis-thrusting potential.
A remarkable memoir by a remarkable artist.