The Tom phenom: They're still tossing their underwear to him

August 30, 1993|By Patty LaNoue Stearns

* Bio: Thomas Jones Woodward; 5 feet 11; suit size 44 jacket, 36 waist; born June 7, 1940, Pontypridd, South Wales; one son, two grandchildren.

Mr. Jones and Melinda, his wife of 36 years, share homes in Wales and Bel Air, Calif. Mrs. Jones, who never tours with Mr. Jones, is said to be "an understanding wife" -- a reference to his sex-symbol status and rumors that he is quite the ladies' man.

Their son, Mark Woodward, 36, who has traveled with his father since age 17, took over as Mr. Jones' manager six years ago, after Gordon Mills, who had managed Mr. Jones since the early '60s, died suddenly.

Thanks to Mr. Woodward and Donna, his wife of 11 years who acts as Mr. Jones' publicist, the singer's career has been on an upward spiral ever since.

* Press kit quote: "In his youth he was a Teddy Boy, a rebel, with not much on his mind but music and sex."

* The old Tomcat: Women threw their underwear on stage; Tom sopped his sweaty brow with the garments, then tossed them back as he undulated wildly to the appreciative crowd. It was also widely rumored he augmented his natural attributes, largely because of the revealing Tom-in-spandex publicity shots his former manager sent to the press.

Mr. Jones, who was good friends with Elvis Presley, got pigeonholed as a Vegas performer in the 1970s.

* The new cool cat: Women still throw him their panties, but he tries to ignore them. Someday he hopes the underwear barrage will just go away. "He hates it," says publicist Donna Woodward. "We all hate it . . . there's a handful of women who do this and it has become a ritual, and he, being the gentleman that he is, doesn't want to kick them back in their faces, so he tries to do it as gracefully as he can."

He says he doesn't augment his physical attributes, and he wears his pants somewhat looser now.

He's still undulating for his appreciative audiences. And after years of trying to please the masses of blue-hairs and conventioneers in Las Vegas, Mr. Jones now declares: "I don't like middle-of-the-road songs. I look for something different that's going to hit people between the eyes."

Mr. Jones detests any comparison with his early '60s singing partner Englebert Humperdinck -- Jerry Dorsey before their mutual manager changed his name. They are not friends.

* Tom's quick weight loss scheme: Beyond running and working out in his home gym, Mr. Jones, who is legend for his oceans of perspiration on stage, loses an average of 5 pounds during each performance.

* Hot flash: "When I hit high notes sometimes when it's really hot, my head spins," says Mr. Jones. "I've never fainted on stage, thank God." He drinks lots of water to keep from passing out.

* Sting sez: "Tom Jones has been through the whole loop so that he's incredibly hip right now. He really is a hip cat." -- Sting, in Rolling Stone.

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