Tom Jones dilemma: Singer’s struggle over ‘different advice’ from Elvis and Frank Sinatra

The Voice: Tom Jones sings ‘With These Hands’

The Welsh singer has sold more than 100 million records during five-and-a-half decades in the music industry. During that time, Sir Tom landed 36 hits in the UK Top 40 chart including It’s Not Unusual, Delilah and Sex Bomb. The Voice star, 80, also brushed shoulders with a number of unforgettable vocalists and admitted he once faced a dilemma over whose advice to follow. 

Sir Tom’s career took off during the Sixties, shortly after the release of It’s Not Unusual, which was his first number one in the UK charts. 

Despite his success with the hit, he revealed that the song had actually been written for the musician Sandie Shaw. 

However, after Sir Tom recorded the track he realised that he didn’t want another musician to sing it and issued a blunt threat to his management.

He said: “When I heard it back I said I gotta have this song and I mean Gordon [Mills] was going, well he wasn’t fussed about it.

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“But Les [Reed] was going ‘Well Sandie Shaw, you know she’s had these number one records – who the hell are you to get hold of this song?’

“I said, ‘Well I’ve got to have this song, if I don’t get this song I’m going back to Wales’. 

“That’s how strongly I felt about this song. ”

Sir Tom confirmed that he “meant” what he said and that he had no doubt in his mind about returning to his wife Melinda Trenchard, known as Linda, in Wales.

The move would have likely ended his career but the singer was adamant that he would have happily continued to perform at working men’s clubs.

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Sir Tom continued: “So they played it to Sandie Shaw, and she said, ‘Whoever’s singing this song that’s his song, I couldn’t sing it like that.’”

Shortly after its release, Sir Tom would be whisked off to the US where he became friends with Elvis, Sinatra, Shirley Bassey and other stars.

Of all the musicians he met, the Pontypridd-born star was most excited about his relationship with The King of Rock and Roll. 

In 2011, Chris Hutchins explained in a Daily Mail article that Elvis liked Sir Tom because he was “a man’s man” and “was talking his kind of language”.

The King’s then-wife Priscilla Presley noticed the spark between the two of them and compared them to “a couple of schoolboys”.

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She told the Daily Mail: “I never saw Elvis so happy in the company of another man.”

Despite their closeness, Sir Tom had a dilemma after the King gave him some advice about what type of music best-suited his voice and told him to stay away from jazz. 

Sir Tom recalled: “He said, ‘Tom, we don’t go there… We leave that to Frank, right?’”

While many would have hung on Elvis’ every word, Sir Tom faced a dilemma because Frank Sinatra would later give him different advice.

Nonetheless, the singer considered a “big compliment” that Elvis considered Sir Tom to have a similar voice to his.

Sir Tom’s iconic voice has previously been described as “husky” and a “full-throated, robust baritone” but the singer doesn’t actually agree.

In 2012, he claimed that he didn’t always have such a low voice and he used to be a tenor. 

Sir Tom told BBC News: “What you lose on the top end, you gain on the bottom end. I used to be able to hit a top C when I was young, now it’s a B flat.”

Elvis’ tip to steer clear of certain musical genres stuck in his mind and was contradicted when he met Sinatra.

In 2016, Sir Tom told CBS News: “Then I’d be talking to Frank Sinatra at the Galleria Bar having a few, you know, in Caesar’s Palace. 

“And he’d say, ‘You know, you’ve got a great jazz voice, Tom. You know, leave that pop stuff alone… you gotta come with me.’ And I said, ‘Frank, I love it all. I do.’”

Despite his uncertainty, Sir Tom has survived in the music industry for decades and is still able to bring audiences to tears with his voice. 

Last weekend on The Voice, the singer told Olly Murs that he was nervous before singing with Elvis for the first time.

Sir Tom recalled: “Well, Elvis Presley I sang with. I was excited! I was thinking, ‘Wow!’

“I met him in Los Angeles in 1965 [when I had] a ballad out called With These Hands.

“He was coming towards me and he was singing, ‘With these hands, I will cling to you.’

In a touching tribute, the singer described Elvis as “the one” but he sang his own rendition of With These Hands.

Sir Tom Jones will feature on The Voice, which airs at 8.30pm Saturday on ITV.

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