On Air Now
The Smooth Sanctuary at 7 with Gary Vincent 7pm - 10pm
22 April 2021, 12:23 | Updated: 29 April 2021, 11:58
Sir Tom Jones has opened up about what it's like to be be in his 80s in show business and why there is one moment he is most proud above all others in his over-60 year career.
Sir Tom Jones turns 81-years-old in June and is reflecting on his long life in the public eye.
In July, the Welsh crooner sets out on tour to celebrate his 41st studio album, Surrounded By Time, a collection of covers from artists including Bob Dylan and Dusty Springfield on a plethora of subjects including ageing, fame and mortality.
In a new interview with Metro, the star talks about one of the most unusual choices for the album, Cat Stevens' track 'Pop Star': "When I listen to it, it just takes me back to when I started," explains Sir Tom.
"I was proud of what I did and I did want to tell my 'mama', although it was more my wife, Linda, than my mother.
"When I took the song 'It’s Not Unusual' [his first number one] back to Wales to play it to her, she said, 'That sounds like a hit to me.'"
"So when it was, I was like, 'Hey, Linda, have a look at this – I’m on at the bloody London Palladium!'"
Sir Tom reveals the album's more downbeat song 'I'm Growing Old' - a checklist of physical changes with age - has been in the works for over 50 years, after writer Bobby Cole approached a young Tom Jones about the track when he was just 32-years-old.
"He said: 'I’ve got this great song – I think you’d sing the s**t out of it.' But I said, 'I don’t think I can do it now but I’ll hold it, so hopefully when I’m about 80, if I ever reach there, then I’ll do it.' And that day came, of course."
"When I walk now,’ says Sir Tom, ‘my son [Mark] says, “You’re looking down a lot” and I say, 'Yes, because I don’t want to trip over something.' It’s harder for me to get off the bloody floor nowadays.’
Reflecting on ageing, Sir Tom says: "In a way, it makes me more determined because when you’re young you don’t think about it.
"You think, oh, yes, I’ve got this big voice and I can sing the s**t out of anything and you just do it. You’re not thinking about what you’ll be like if you get to 80. But you do think about what the benefits are.
"Well, the first benefit of being 80 is I was first in line for my Covid jab before Christmas."
Thoughtfully, he adds: "When I was a kid I didn’t want to do a job of work that I didn’t like, which most people have to do in order to survive.
"I knew I was put on this Earth for this purpose. I think God gave me this voice. And when you get a gift like this, you should see it through."
Throughout his 60 year career the star has been awarded an Ivor Novello, an OBE and even his own TV show, This Is Tom Jones in the '60s, but his turn as a coach on The Voice has catapulted him to another level of fame.
When asked what it is he brings to the show, the singer was frank.
"Honesty, first of all," he says. "I’m very honest with the singers I coach. And I can sing."
"I’m not saying that Boy George [who replaced him for a season in 2016] can’t sing but I have this traditional, soulful feel and when the audience on the show is shouting 'come on, Tom, give us a song!' I think, well, if I’m going to sing now, I’ve got to show these younger people how I think it should be done."
And he isn't wrong. Videos of Sir Tom Jones singing solos on The Voice including a mesmerising version of 'Cry To Me' from Dirty Dancing and his own song 'With These Hands' – which was also Elvis Presley's favourite – have garnered hundreds of thousands of views online.
But after 80 years on earth and an incredible over 60 years in show business, there is one simple moment that he's most proud of.
"Being knighted by the Queen," says Sir Tom Jones, "that is above and beyond any of my expectations."
For details on Tom Jones' 2021-2022 tour and to buy tickets visit Ticketmaster.