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The night Tom Jones proved as popular as the moon landing

22 May 2024 4 minute read
Tom Jones (left) and the moon landing (right).

We’re not saying Tom Jones was big in the ‘60s, but to give you some idea of his gargantuan popularity, the Welsh legend has spoken about playing two shows – on the night when man first stepped foot on the moon.

Now, you would think that nothing would be able to rival this spectacular, unprecedented moment for mankind.

However, such was the singer’s popularity – he had his own TV show which was a massive hit in the US – he proved more than a match for this epochal occasion in history when on July 20, 1969 Apollo 11 landed on the moon.

“I was in America when that happened,” he said. “We were playing two shows in the States that night and I thought, ‘My God, nobody’s gonna show up…’. But they did. We watched the moon landing between shows. I ran back to my trailer.

“I was in this place for a week, I played a week of shows in what they used to call theatres where the stage would be in the centre and there were three to five thousand seats, something like that.

“You’d do one show every night for a week. Because my TV show was so big at the time, it was 1969, I was doing two shows. So when they said they were going to televise the moon landing I meant to cancel it: ‘Nobody’s gonna show up!’ I was surprised when they did.

‘Kick myself’

In a wide-ranging chat with music newsletter The New Cue, the Welsh legend also lifted the lid on his encounters with Donald Trump and Prince.

Jones, who covered the Prince penned track Kiss, revealed how he was invited to the Purple one’s recording studio after a night out with him in London.

“It was at his birthday party in Tramp, the club in London,” he recalled. “I was invited there to his birthday party because we shared a birthday, June 7.

“He invited me to the party, and I said to him, ‘Thanks for the song!’ And he said, ‘Thanks for recording it!’ But I didn’t say, ‘Oh what do you think of my version?’

“I got to hang out with Prince a bit. That’s a regret of mine, because he wanted me to go to Paisley Park with him but at the time, because I was doing that (1999 LP) Reload album, I was too busy. We were in Germany at the same time one time doing a TV show. I was with him all night.

“We started talking at the aftershow party and he said again, ‘You should come to Paisley Park and hang out…’ I said, ‘OK, I’ll call you…’ but I never got round to it. I kick myself because of that.”

Someone who the Welshman would rather have avoided was Donald Trump.

“At Atlantic City at the hotels that I was singing at, he owned three of them – The Taj Mahal, The Trump Plaza and The Trump Marina,” he said. “I would be singing at these places and he would come to the shows.

“He was a bit of a playboy. He always wanted to be introduced (on stage). They’d say, ‘Mr. Donald Trump will be here tonight, can you introduce him?’ So I used to introduce him as the owner of the hotel and the spotlight would go on him.

“He was like a businessman playboy but who the hell would think that he was going to become the president, even in the States! I’d seen him on TV but he wasn’t even in politics. I thought, ‘My God’!”

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