Sir Tom Jones gained a fresh appreciation for life after his wife Linda passed away from cancer.
And in spite of his advanced age, he has kept busy, coaching contestants on The Voice UK and releasing his most recent album, Surrounded by Time.
After taking a five-year break from recording, Jones has released his 41st studio album. He also continues to struggle with the loss of his wife of 59 years to lung cancer in 2016.
“I canceled the tour I was on when we learned she was ill and went to see her in the hospital in Los Angeles.I told her I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to sing anymore,” Jones, who had lived with Linda in Los Angeles since 1974 before leaving for the UK after her passing.
But she said to me, “You have to. I know where I’m going, so there is no way out for me. Don’t die with me,” though.
Jones acknowledges that he is still struggling with the loss five years later. The singer, Thomas Jones Woodward, had accomplished everything.
“Would you ever get married again?” a person recently asked me, says Jones. “There is no connection with anyone else, therefore I couldn’t.”
Jones and Linda were high school sweethearts and got married in 1957. Linda was eight months pregnant with their son Mark when they were both sixteen. Jones later worked as a musician while doing construction during the day to support his small family.
In reference to the renowned New York City nightclub, he says, “If you can get over in a Welsh coal-mining working-club, man’s you don’t have to worry about the Copacabana.” Because it takes singing ability to stand in front of these people.
He eventually got the eye of the late talent manager Gordon Mills, who signed him and gave him his stage name, in 1964.
When I first traveled to London to focus on music, Jones explains, “I wasn’t making any money.” Therefore, Linda went and worked at a factory up until I could send some money home. Even though she didn’t enjoy it, she still did it because she trusted me.
While his debut song, “It’s Not Unusual,” did not fare well, things changed in 1965 when he teamed up with British singer Cilla Black for a tour and “It’s Not Unusual” went to the top of the U.K. charts.
“I went to a pub with these other rock bands from Liverpool after a gig one night, and the girls were screaming outside. I assumed that they must be calling out for them,” he says. “I didn’t realize ‘It’s Not Unusual’ had risen to the top of the charts so quickly when I left with a small pork pie in my hand. These youngsters leapt on me, though! My raincoat was in utter disarray.”
Linda was constantly supportive of Jones as he rose to stardom.
She would tell him, “Don’t attempt that Tom Jones bulls— with me, I married Thomas Woodward,” recalls Jones.
Even at their house on St. George’s Hill, where she enforced the law, he once played a game of cue with pals.
He continues, “I was smoking a cigar and drinking champagne and I was like, ‘Sure, yeah, yeah, we did this, and that, and the other.’” “Just a minute,” she said. “You don’t actually believe that you are Tom Jones, do you?” I responded, “Well, yeah.” She then responded, “Well, you’re not. Please refrain from bringing up Tom Jones when I’m present because I married Tommy Woodward. You could act that way around your buddies, but not around me.”
He says, “This guy who was there collapsed on the floor laughing.” “I’ve never heard anyone speak to you in that way before,” he continued. Nobody else could,” I responded. She’s my wife, though. She came first no matter what else I did. She made sure I stayed on my feet.”
Jones had several well-known romances during his heyday as a rock star, including one with the model Katherine Berkery that gave birth to Jonathan. But he claims that Linda has always been “No. 1 in my life.”
As far as we were concerned as a husband and wife, “everything else aside from that was nonexistent,” he adds. However, it wasn’t an open partnership. Not at all. If I made a move, she would squeeze my… It would hurt somewhere you didn’t want to hurt.”
Jones questioned, “Who is going to save me from myself now?” after Linda passed away.
It was then he turned to his son and now-manager, Mark, who “won’t allow me to be ‘Tom Jones,’” he says. A grief therapist also led him to find his strength to sing again by encouraging him to perform Bob Dylan’s ballad “What Good Am I?”
“It’s a song that makes me think about my wife and whether I could have changed anything,” he says. “But I got some musician friends together in a hotel room, and I sang it. I got through it.”
Just two months after Linda’s death, Jones was able to play in front of a crowd live again for the first time at the Hampton Court Palace in London.
“The audience knew what I was going through and was with me,” he says. “I felt the love come up from that stage, and I thought, ‘Wow, I’m okay.’”
“As long as you’re alive and breathing, you can take care of anything,” he says. “Life is more precious to me now, and I want to try and make the most of it.”