Sir Tom Jones is the singer whose work has left fans throwing their knickers on stage. Even in his early days, Sir Tom was a real hit with the ladies, but even so he needed a different image to make it big. His manager was a huge help with this, helping mould him into the man we know and love.
In an exclusive interview with Express.co.uk, Tom Jones biographer and formr Pontypridd Observer journalist Colin Macfarlane described how Gordon Mills, the man who managed Sir Tom for many years, was key in helping him shape his identity.
Speaking at the time of his new book release, Sir Tom Jones: 80, Mr Macfarlane said of Mills: “He was just one of those guys. I was lucky to speak to him about three times and he’d tell me fantastic stories and you didn’t know whether to believe it or not.
“For example telling a reporter on the Pontypridd Observer a world exclusive that Elvis wanted him to manage him? I can’t do anything about it, it’s the Pontypridd Observer.
“But obviously before Tom went to America and became the big time he [Tom] would drink beer and maybe smoke woodbines, but when he became big, Gordon moulded him to become a cigar smoker and champagne drinker.
“He refined his image, Gordon was a genius, he was an absolute genius.”
Mills not only did this, but he also saw that Sir Tom’s true life as a father and husband was kept under wraps.
In fact, Sir Tom Jones was first marketed as a 22-year-old, single man who worked down the mines in South Wales when he burst onto the scene in 1965.
This was not the truth, however, and he was in fact married with a child of seven-years-old when he made it big – and he had never stepped into a mine in his life.
However, this was the way of Mills, says Mr Macfarlane. Mills shaped his acts, which included Gilbert O’Sullivan and Engelbert Humperdinck, into himself.
Mr Macfarlane added: “It was crazy, but he [Mills] was great at changing people’s images and if you look at Tom where he started off compared to Tom up to the 1970s, Tom changes his appearance so he was almost a replica of Gordon Mills.
“That curly hair and hairy chest and he [Mills] did was the same as Gilbert O’Sullivan.
“O’Sullivan once had a flat cap and Mills turned him into an almost replica of him. The whole thing’s mad.”
One may think this is Mills’ way of trying to be a star, by making his acts into a version of him.
However, Mr Macfarlane is not sure about this, given Mills’ incredible career as a songwriter.
Mr Macfarlane said: “Gordon Mills had made it in his own right by being a songwriter, he wrote I’ll Never Get Over You and Ten Guitars.”
In fact, Mills wrote a huge number of hits for acts like Cliff Richard, Johnny Kidd & The Pirates along with his own acts, co-writing Sir Tom’s first mega smash-hit, It’s Not Unusual.
Mills was also from South Wales, and Mr Macfarlane said he was a bus conductor before he found his passion as a music manager.
Mills was Sir Tom’s manager up to 1986 when, aged 51, Mills died of stomach cancer.
Sir Tom was a pallbearer at his funeral, and following Mills’ death Sir Tom’s son Mark took over as his new manager.
Colin Macfarlane’s book Sir Tom Jones: 80 is out now
Published at Wed, 20 May 2020 09:06:00 +0000