Tom Jones recalls astounding moment Elvis Presley sang his own song to him the first time they met

1 February 2021, 14:55 | Updated: 1 February 2021, 16:03

Sir Tom Jones was appearing on The Graham Norton Show when he recalled the incredible moment he first met Elvis Presley
Sir Tom Jones was appearing on The Graham Norton Show when he recalled the incredible moment he first met Elvis Presley. Picture: The Graham Norton Show/BBC

By Giorgina Ramazzotti

Sir Tom Jones was appearing on The Graham Norton Show when he recalled the incredible moment he first met The King in Hollywood and he sang the Welsh youngster's single, 'With These Hands'.

Sir Tom Jones has rubbed shoulders many of the greatest performers in living memory.

The 80-year-old career has seen him sing with everyone many stars including Ella Fitzgerald, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin and even Carlton from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, but nothing compares to his close friendship with The King himself, Elvis Presley.

See more: The 14 greatest Tom Jones songs ever, ranked

The Voice judge appeared on The Graham Norton Show at the weekend (January 29) when he recalled the amazing moment he first met Elvis at the very start of his 50-year career.

The Welsh crooner, who was on the show to promote his 41st album Surrounded By Time, happily opened up about the first time he met Elvis on the set of a major Hollywood film, no less.

See more: Residents enjoy 'social distance dance' sessions in the street to Tom Jones - video

Recalling the first time he met Elvis Presley, Sir Tom recalled being astounded when he was told that The King himself wanted to meet with him.
Recalling the first time he met Elvis Presley, Sir Tom recalled being astounded when he was told that The King himself wanted to meet with him. Picture: The Graham Norton Show/BBC
The year was 1965 and up-and-coming singer Tom Jones had just released his third single, 'With These Hands'
The year was 1965 and up-and-coming singer Tom Jones had just released his third single, 'With These Hands'. Picture: The Graham Norton Show/BBC

Recalling the first time he met Elvis Presley, Sir Tom recalled being astounded when he was told that The King himself wanted to meet with him.

See more: Tom Jones and Mick Hucknall perform surprise duet at The O2 Arena - watch

The year was 1965 and up-and-coming singer Tom Jones had just released his third single, 'With These Hands' when he travelled to Los Angeles for the first time.

“It was wonderful, I was staying in a hotel on Sunset Strip and I had to go to Paramount Studios for work.

"They said to me: 'Elvis Presley is going to be there tomorrow and he wants to meet you'.

See more: The Voice UK: Tom Jones tears up after watching surprise birthday message from Stevie Wonder

“I though ‘Elvis Presley wants to meet me?’ it was unbelievable!" the singer recalls, “So I went there and they said, 'Elvis is filming and once they’ve stopped the filming, you go in'.

"They closed the doors [behind me] and I’m standing there in the back with the ‘Memphis Mafia’, the people that work for him, and Elvis is there in a mock helicopter with a girl.

The Voice judge appeared on The Graham Norton Show at the weekend (January 29) when he recalled the amazing moment he first met Elvis at the very start of his 50-year career.
The Voice judge appeared on The Graham Norton Show at the weekend (January 29) when he recalled the amazing moment he first met Elvis at the very start of his 50-year career. Picture: The Graham Norton Show/BBC

“They did the scene and I’m there thinking ‘Oh my, it’s Elvis Presley’.

“When they said cut, Elvis looked across and went [Tom Jones gestures a hello] and I was looking around at the fellas with me.

See more: Watch 25-year-old Elvis Presley sing duet with Frank Sinatra in incredible footage from 1960

“They said: ‘Elvis is waving at you, wave back!’ he laughed.

“So he gets out of this helicopter and starts walking towards me. I had a record out at the time, my third single called ‘With These Hands' and Elvis is suddenly walking towards me and he’s singing ‘With these hands, I will cling to you…’

“And I thought ‘My God! If the boys back home could see me now!”

See more: Tom Jones singing ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas’ as Ella Fitzgerald watches on is so beautiful

Despite the interview on Graham Norton's show ending there, Tom Jones had previously spoken about the moment to Rolling Stone in 2015 and elaborated on what happened next.

“Elvis said to me, ‘How the hell do you sing like that?’" Tom recalls.

As a teenager, when Tom would tell his friends in his home town of Pontypridd "I&squot;ll meet Elvis one day." Pictured in 1987.
As a teenager, when Tom would tell his friends in his home town of Pontypridd "I'll meet Elvis one day." The star pictured in 1987. Picture: Getty

"And I said, ‘Listening to you, for one thing’ — and Jerry Lee Lewis and Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, Mahalia Jackson, and things that he was influenced by.

"Elvis said, ‘Yeah, but I was brought up there. I went to black gospel churches. Is there anything like that in Wales?’ I said, ‘No, I was listening to it all on the radio.’ Like all of us did in Britain.” 

As a teenager, when Tom would tell his friends in his home town of Pontypridd "I'll meet Elvis one day," and of course no one believed him, yet Elvis' lifelong friend and manager of The Beach Boys, Jerry Schilling, recalled how Tom Jones became one of Presley's most trusted and beloved friends until the star's death in 1977.

"Elvis didn't really hang out with other entertainers that much, but if there was one artist that Elvis truly called a friend and hung out with the most, it was Sir Tom Jones," he tells the BBC in 2019.

Tom Jones and Elvis become great friends. "They even went on vacation together to Hawaii and spent lots of time together in Las Vegas.
Tom Jones and Elvis become great friends. "They even went on vacation together to Hawaii and spent lots of time together in Las Vegas. Picture: Getty
"We would all get together at a friend&squot;s house and they would sing songs at the end of the night. Tom liked to sing Elvis&squot; "One Night With You" Pictured: Tom Jones With Elvis And Priscilla Presley in 1971.
"We would all get together at a friend's house and they would sing songs at the end of the night. Tom liked to sing Elvis' "One Night With You" Pictured: Tom Jones With Elvis And Priscilla Presley in 1971. Picture: Getty

"We would all get together at a friend's house and they would sing songs at the end of the night. Tom liked to sing Elvis' "One Night With You"

"They even went on vacation together to Hawaii and spent lots of time together in Las Vegas.

See more: Photos of Tom Jones through the years at 80: 'The women, the sex… I don’t regret anything'

"Elvis was always cautious about letting people get close and what their intentions were," he says: "But he was inspired by Tom and they became very good friends."

'With These Hands' was written by Benny Davis and Abner Silver and was first released by Eddie Fisher in 1953, reaching number 7 in the US pop chart.

The song was then released by Shirley Bassey in 1960 and reached only number 38 on the UK chart, before a version was recorded and released by Tom Jones in 1960.

See more: When and where was Elvis Presley's final concert performance before he died?

'With These Hands' reached hit number 13 on the UK chart and number 3 on the US adult contemporary chart and paved the way for the Welsh crooner's huge success in the United States.

On the January 16 episode of The Voice Tom Jones gave an incredibly tender performance of the song, showing the public just why Elvis sang it to him all those years ago.

Sir Tom sang the beautiful 1965 hit 'With These Hands' for the awestruck audience as his fellow coaches looked on, giving him a roaring standing ovation as the last notes of the song faded away.

Read more: QUIZ: How well do you know Tom Jones and his music?

Viewers of the show took to social media to give praise for the performance and many said his moving rendition of the song had reduced them to tears.

“Tom Jones making me cry. What a singer! #TheVoiceUK,” one viewer said.

“Tom Jones's voice is in the finest condition, there is no denial #thevoiceuk #thevoice,” another said.

See more: What is Sir Tom Jones’ real name? The Voice UK judge makes surprising revelation

The Welsh star has just announced his 41st studio album, Surrounded By Time, his fourth album in ten years and released the vintage-themed video for the album's incredible first single 'Talking Reality Television Blues'.