Sir Tom Jones, 83, insists he won't be retiring any time soon – on one condition
Sir Tom Jones may not be able to ‘walk around on stage’ as much as he used to in his younger years, but is confident his voice is more than strong enough for a good show.
The music icon turned 83 in June, but – fans will be happy to learn – isn’t even thinking about retirement, and plans to keep going as long as his voice lets him.
Having gone through two hip replacements, the thought of giving up live music didn’t even occur to him, he admits to Metro.co.uk ahead of his UK tour which kicks off later this month.
‘The only way [I would retire] is if I couldn’t sing any more,’ the She’s A Lady singer declares.
‘If something went wrong with my vocal ability,I wouldn’t want to go on not in full strength. I wouldn’t like to shortchange an audience.
‘Being old, you can’t do what you used to do. I mean, I can’t walk around like I used to but I wouldn’t want to now. When you’re young you’re full of p*** and vinegar and you’re giving it plenty. Now I concentrate more on singing than I do anything else.
‘When you’re young, you’re moving around the stage and want to get as much out of it as possible, and you have to be careful you don’t burn out. You can fire all your guns at once and that could be a problem. So you’ve got to learn to pace yourself, that’s important.’
If it ever came to it that his voice did suffer, he’s open to the idea of a hologram show or using AI to carry on for him – though says he’s never considered the idea much as ‘hopefully it’s nowhere near.’
‘I’m still able to get up there and do it live. I don’t know, it’s a good question because I’ve never really thought about that … If people want to go and see that then fine. If that’s all you’ve got left of that person and you still want to go and see that because it’s a film of a person you love, then… but I haven’t thought about that because I’m nowhere near that.’
The What’s New Pussycat hitmaker has been going non-stop since the 1960s, graduating from Workman’s Clubs in Wales to international stardom and hanging out with the likes of Elvis Presley, and as for whether it seems that long ago for him – ‘Sometimes it does, and sometimes it doesn’t.’
He ‘vividly remembers’ some of his earliest shows in clubs in Wales, calling them ‘fantastic … you get your training ground there.’
Sir Tom recalls: ‘When I was singing in the clubs in Wales, I’d sing an Elvis song and sometimes my friends would say “You sing that as good as Elvis.” And I used to say, “I’ll tell him that when I see him.” They’d laugh like, “Oh yeah, okay Tom.” So I told him that when I saw him!’
He, of course, did meet many of his icons, including Elvis – and became close friends with him, which was ‘the biggest one for me because I was a teenager in the 50s.’
‘I remember I was 15 when Rock Around The Clock was released, the first Rock n’ Roll album to come out. It was life-changing when Rock n’ Roll first hit. Then, of course, the King of Rock n Roll was Elvis Presley.’
When Sir Tom and The King first met, it was at a time when ‘not many people had met [him], especially Brits. The Beatles had just met him I think a year before, so that was very special.’
Meeting his idols and getting to sing with them was ‘mind-boggling,’ but at the time all he could think was, ‘Wow, that’s great!’
‘But when you look back… like I’ve got pictures on my wall, that’s when I think “My God, is that really me? Standing with Elvis Presley?” It’s a strange thing. But when you’re doing it it’s very exciting.’
Sir Tom has been performing live and creating music for an incredible 60 years, and at a time when artists are burning out and needing to take time away to rest and protect their mental health, he has some advice – the same advice he gives to hopefuls on The Voice.
‘You’ve got to love this,’ he begins.
‘If you’re going to make a career of this you’ve got to really, really love what you do. It’s not always going to be smooth. You’re going to have ups and downs, and travelling, you’ve got to be able to deal with a lot of stuff.
‘It’s alright to get up and do Karaoke on a Friday night. People go, “Oh this feels good, I’d like to do this for a living.” Yeah, well do it again tomorrow night, and then the night after that and then the night after that! You’ve got to love it more than anything else because it’s going to take all of your life. It affects your life so much, and if you’re successful it’s great.’
As for what keeps Sir Tom himself going, ‘the basic thing is I still love to sing. I love singing now as much as I ever did.’
Which is good news for fans across the UK, as Sir Tom returns to Wales for his first headline show in a whopping 21 years, followed by multiple more dates across the country.
While he wants ‘you never know until you get out there what the feeling is going to be like,’ the legendary musician says performing in the UK – and especially Wales – ‘is always special.’
‘Me being Welsh, of course, when you go home it’s more exciting,’ he adds.
Sir Tom has legions of fans across the world, and will be greeting his UK supporters in dates up until August as he performs in Cardiff, Essex, Margate, London, Brighton and more – and reflects further on how wild the fans used to be in his younger years.
‘There was a lot more hysteria then, it’s calmed down,’ he explains – something he actually appreciates.
‘When you get older, [the crowd] want to listen more than when you were young.’
Having secured a glittering career across the entertainment industry, from music to TV and showbiz, Sir Tom is still convinced ‘you’ve never done it all.’
‘I haven’t anyway. I just want to keep going. I never feel that I’ve done it all.’
This could come in the form of a collaboration, as he says it ‘felt really good’ to team up with Jennifer Hudson on The Voice. And while ‘there are a lot of exciting singers … and I’m always open to suggestions,’ the most important thing is findign the right song.
Tom Jones will play across the UK this summer from June through to August, tickets are available from www.tomjones.com
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