Elvis Presley and Tom Jones
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 Las Vegas.
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Elvis watching Tom Jones perform in 1974.
In her photo above, Judy Palmer captured Elvis' profile in the half light of the stage spotlight. Elvis was in the audience of a Tom Jones show. Tom was about to introduce Elvis to his audience.
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.
When they first started playing my records in America, they thought I was black. And so did Elvis Presley.
He said, 'When I heard 'What's New Pussycat', I thought it was a black fella singing it'.
Which was strange for him to say because they thought he was black when he started.
We became friends from that day on, and that was in 1965. We were friends until just before he died. We worked Vegas a lot together, at the same time. He came to see me at The Flamingo in '68, because he said he wanted to make a comeback, live, because he hadn't sung live for years.
He wanted to sing in Las Vegas, so he felt that I was the closest thing to him; I had a similar approach. My stage presence, he felt, was very similar to his. So he said to me, 'You were very successful in Vegas, I want to watch you, I want to see what you do'. And then it gave him more confidence to make a comeback.
'I think he was the only person I've spoken to that felt the same way about music as myself, as far as versatility is concerned. Because he loved ballads as well as rock 'n' roll, he loved Gospel, he loved pop. And we would sit in the suite and talk about music… and we would sing, mostly jam…'
In August 1974, Elvis gave a big introduction to Tom Jones, who was catching one of his shows: 'There's somebody in the audience I'd like you meet. To me ... he's my favorite singer. He's one of the greatest performers I've ever seen, and the greatest voice, Tom Jones. There he is. He's too much. Tom, you open at Caesars palace tomorrow night, right? Folks, if you get the chance, go over and see him.
He's really something. He always comes to see my show here and I go to see his. It's a mutual respect'.
A few photos exist that show Elvis taking in Tom Jones' performances in Las Vegas.
Here is a shot showing Elvis sitting in the audience watching Tom Jones on stage at Caesars Palace.
Elvis Presley, Tom Jones and partners, friends.
Here is Elvis on September 4, 1973, as Tom Jones introduces him in the audience. Note Linda Thompson to Elvis' right.
Sometimes Elvis would make a surprise appearance on stage during one of Tom Jones' performances.
Elvis on stage with Tom Jones (Tom Jones Concert).
Chris Ellis, Elvis Presley, Tom Jones's drummer, Tom Jones : 1969.
Tom Jones and Elvis Presley : On stage : September 1973.
Tom Jones and Elvis Presley : On stage : 1973.
Tom Jones and Elvis Presley shake hands : On stage, September 4, 1973.
Elvis giving Karate demonstration at a Tom Jones Concert.
Elvis giving Karate demonstration at a Tom Jones Concert.
Elvis Presley and Tom Jones at Elvis' home, Swimming pool - at his holiday home in Hawaii, October 1969.
Elvis Presley in the swimming pool at his holiday home in Hawaii, October 1969.
Elvis Presley and Tom Jones : The Flamingo Hotel : June, 10, 1969.
Elvis Presley and Tom Jones : The Flamingo Hotel : June, 10, 1969. View larger image.
Elvis Presley and Tom Jones, with Priscilla and Charlie Hodge.
Tom Jones and Elvis Presley.
Tom Jones, Elvis and Priscilla - Hawaii.
Tom Jones and Elvis Presley at the beach - Hawaii.
Elvis with Merv Griffin, Tom Jones, and Norm Crosby, backstage in Las Vega - (1971?)
[Above link, the day, Elvis led Standing ovation For Tom Jones]
Never before have we seen an Elvis Presley concert from the 1950's with sound. Until Now! The DVD Contains recently discovered unreleased film of Elvis performing 6 songs, including Heartbreak Hotel and Don't Be Cruel, live in Tupelo Mississippi 1956. Included we see a live performance of the elusive Long Tall Sally seen here for the first time ever. + Plus Bonus DVD Audio.
This is an excellent release no fan should be without it.
The 'parade' footage is good to see as it puts you in the right context with color and b&w footage. The interviews of Elvis' Parents are well worth hearing too. The afternoon show footage is wonderful and electrifying : Here is Elvis in his prime rocking and rolling in front of 11.000 people. Highly recommended.
Tupelo's Own Elvis Presley DVD Video with Sound.