When Tom Jones was teenager, his idol was Elvis Presley. In early 1965, Jones rocketed to popularity with the huge hit ‘It’s Not Unusual’. Later that year, they met at the Paramount stage, where Elvis was filming Paradise Hawaiian Style. After that, they became good friends, spending more and more time together in Vegas and Elvis invited Jones to Graceland.
Tom Jones I went to Paramount studios in Hollywood to talk about a song for a movie, and they said ‘Elvis is here today filming and he would like to meet you’. So I though, my God, I didn’t know that he knew that I existed, because I had three singles out and one album at the time. And that was ‘It’s Not Unusual’, ‘What’s New Pussycat’ and a ballad called ‘With These Hands’.
When I go on the set where Elvis was filming, he walked towards me and singing ‘With These Hands’, which was my record. I couldn’t believe it. It was like a dream, that Elvis Presley was singing my song, you know, to me!
We had a picture taken, and he said to me, ‘How the hell do you sing like that’? And I said, ‘Well, you are partly to blame, you know, listening to your records in the 50s’.
He said, ‘What’s it like in Wales then? You come from Wales?’ I said ‘Yeah’. And he said, ‘Do all people sing like that in Wales?’ I said, ‘Well, not exactly’, but I said, ‘Welsh people have strong voices, that is where I get my strength from. My volume is where I come from’. But, I said, ‘I was influenced more by American music than I was Welsh traditional music’. So I said, ‘It’s a combination. I have a Welsh voice, but because of American music influencing me so much, I am sounding like I do’. Because they thought I was black, you know.