Watch the interview and answer the questions below.
The activity is suitable for strong intermediate students.
What does the 1990’s refer to?
What does Tom Jones attribute his longevity to?
When did he first meet Elvis?
What were the similarities and differences between Frank Sinatra and Elvis?
What happened in 1967?
What question did the Queen ask Tom Jones when he was doing one Royal Grand performance?
Which does he prefer, the Beatles or the Rolling Stones?
What do music and sport have in common?
When will he stop singing?
I’m Katherine Mayer, Time Europe Editor, and I interviewed to Tom Jones at Somerset House ahead of his Olympics concert.
Tom Jones, thanks very much for talking to Time. The last time I interviewed you was back in the 1990s. I'm really hoping my career last long enough to interview you again in 15 years.
I hope I last long enough to interview you again in 15 years. Can you tell me to what do you attribute your great career longevity?
Well, good health first of all, you can’t, you can't do anything without that, so I'm lucky there and my voice is still as powerful as ever, so that's, there’s luck, there as well as the love of it. I'm always finding out new things. When I try a, a different project, you know, there's always something to learn, I don't, I don't think we ever should stop learning.
Tell me about when you first met Elvis.
I met Elvis Presley 1965 when I first went to America. 1965 was a, was a huge year for me. My first hit record was a song called ‘It’s not unusual’. That came out in January 65 and it became a hit, you know, worldwide, so I was meeting all these very famous people, very quickly and Elvis Presley was, you know, was one of those people. I'm I met him in, in Los Angeles. I was knocked out, you know, they said Elvis is filming at Paramount, and he heard that you were here and he’d like to say hi, you know. It was great meeting him and I'm him knowing who I was.
You actually became friends with Elvis and with Fran Sinatra, didn’t you? Tell me something that I wouldn't know about Elvis. Tell me something I wouldn't know about Frank.
Well, I don't think there is anything that you wouldn't know. I mean the biggest difference I saw between Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra, Frank used to like to drink, you know, and so do I. So we have that in common, you know, we would be at the bar in Caesars Palace and we would have a few drinks together and, you know, to me he was very warm person, you know, and a lot of people have said about Frank Sinatra ‘Oh, you know, he could be, could be a little awkward’, but then again who, who's he being awkward with, you know? I think we can all be awkward on times, it all depends who we, who we’re speaking to you know, who we're dealing with. And, and, and Elvis Presley did not drink. The common to nominate, if you like, is, is music.
You performed at the Diamond Jubilee concert recently I'm guessing you've met the Queen a few times over the years. Well I know you met at at least once because you're Sir Tom Jones.
Well, I first met her in 1967. When the show that used to be, used to be called the Royal Command Performance and then I got an OBE, Order the British Empire, and then of course, you know, a few years later they said ‘you’ve been considered for a knighthood’. Wow! That was, that shook me up there for a while, to be honest with you. It made me shake a bit.
So it didn't make you nervous being around a small woman with a very large sword.
No, I had confidence. I know that she wouldn’t… she was still all of, you know, all the faculties were in place. She wasn’t gonna slip anything. But I, I must say I always feel very proud in her presence. She's a fantastic person, she caught me off-guard once, I remember. I was doing one Royal Grand Performance and she said, ‘are you still living in America?’ And I said ‘Yes but only for convenience sake, Your Majesty,’ and then like she shot out to me.
If you had to choose, if you had to choose just a few tracks to be your Olympic sound track to represent Britain, can you think of a few that you might come up with?
Well I mean during the war Vera Lynn was a big singer, so it would have to be something… then there was a fellow called George Formby who used to play, you know, here leaning on the lamp post on the corner of the street, you know, which was a big part of the British music in those, those days. The Beatles, of course.
Beatles, not the Rolling Stones?
Both, I think you can have both, because they’re different from another anyway.
Would you have any punks?
No punk, well, you know, you got to have something from each era, I suppose, you know, to represent Britain so it should be represented, I think it all should be from differently eras, but there's a lot of people so I'm, I'm glad I don't have to make the choice.
Of course, the Olympics isn't just about sport, it's also supposed to be about legacy.
I think it's great for any country to host the Olympic Games ‘cause it's a wonderful thing. Like music, sport is something that brings people together and I was in Los Angeles in 1984. So they were expecting, you know, we have to make sure the roads are right and the traffic’s gonna be murder in this side and the other, and when it came with it happened very orderly, so I hope it happens like that in England.
It's hard to imagine you ever stopping.
Immortality would be a wonderful thing for me, you know. I, I'm enjoying myself so much that I never wanted to end and the thing that will stop me will be eventually age because singing to me is not work, singing is… is a pleasure and if everybody could have, some they let, you know, the passion that people have about things, if they could, if they could turn that into a career I think that’s, that’s as the gift of life.