I only met Welsh singing sensation Tom Jones for a couple of hours in 1965 but the memory of him has remained indelible in my mind.
Tom was touring Australia with a ‘Best of British’ concert group, along with Manchester’s answer to the Beatles, Herman’s Hermits. Peter Noone, lead singer of the Hermits was a school friend, back in Manchester, of my room-mate in the Nurse's Home and he’d sent her 6 tickets for the concert downstairs in the Beat Basement, Adelaide's trendiest disco at the time.
Dressed in a tiny crocheted black mini, with my waist length blond hair ironed straight, I sat on the edge of my chair when Pete came over to our table with Tom and the rest of the Hermits. After introductions were made, we all got up to dance to another of the concert bands and I found my hand tightly enveloped in Tom’s large grasp. He wore a dazzling white silk shirt, undone to just above his waist and skin tight black and white hounds tooth pants and out on the dance floor he dazzled under the disco lights as the beat of the music resonated in him.
We danced close, close enough for me to catch a waft of his aftershave and then it was his turn on stage. He took my hand and led me to a table at the edge the performing area, where he opened his bracket of songs with ‘It’s Not Unusual’, directing his focus on me and serenading me the whole time he sang.
Back at our table with my friends and the Hermits, I sat on his knee with his arm around my back and felt the vibrations in his chest whenever he spoke with that lilting Welsh accent. He told me that, like most Welsh men, he’d grown up with music in his home and community, began singing at an early age and joined a male choir as a schoolboy, as was the tradition in his coal mining town back home.
Like all magical evenings, ours ended at midnight, when the ‘Best of British’ musicians stowed their bags and instruments and boarded their coach for the long overnight trip to Melbourne, where they were all playing the next night.
I don’t remember the drive back to the Nurse’s Home or of undressing and crawling into bed that night. I kept reliving the feel of Tom’s hands on my cheeks as he slowly, sensuously kissed me before boarding the coach, travelling on through the next 4 decades, with his own unique way of singing his way into the hearts of women around the world.
Tom Jones – you’ll always be one of my greatest memories.