What many may not realize is that Elvis Presley and Tom Jones, had a close friendship, sharing a mutual love for music. The King of Rock and Roll met Welsh singer Jones in Los Angeles in 1965. Speaking of that first meeting, Jones reminisced, “He started walking toward me singing my song ‘With These Hands.’ I thought, ‘My God, if the boys back home could see me now.'”
Three years into their first contact and blossoming friendship, the duo took an iconic photo in the star’s dressing room while Priscilla and Linda, Tom’s wife, exchanged photos of their babies. Tom did not fancy the photo because he thought his double chin was prominent. He commented on his buddy Elvis’ weight loss, to which he replied, “Very well, I put it on the cheeks.”
Elvis Presley and Tom Jones talked about their concerns
Elvis once drove 250 miles from Los Angeles to the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas to watch Tom headline his new show. The King had kept a close eye on Tom’s music and career since they first met. According to Elvis, Tom was his favorite singer, and that night changed his life. Elvis’ appearance led to a standing ovation from the audience.
RELATED: “True Friend” Tom Jones Mocked Elvis Presley’s Singing Behind His Back
At the time their iconic photo was taken, Elvis was on the brink of making an unusual move that would be against the wishes of his manager, Colonel Parker — a move influenced by Tom. For his part, Tom opened up on his concerns about his latest single at the time, “It’s Not Unusual.” He felt the single would not be a hit in the US, but Elvis reassured him, saying, “It’s a great record. It will be a smash here.” The King knew his stuff.
The duo appeared at each other’s concerts
Coming to watch him was not the only reason Elvis had journeyed to Las Vegas. “You lit a fire in me tonight, I’m going to tell that old man (Colonel Parker) I need to get back on the road,” Elvis had told Jones that night.
Jones recalled, “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.”
Elvis paid back a favor
The day after the show, Elvis called his manager and told him he wanted to perform in live performances rather than the usual formulaic movies he had lined up for him. That move — as had meeting Tom in the first place — had a significant impact on his career onward. Six years after the life-changing night, Elvis paid back the favor: At one of his shows, with Tom present, he brought him on stage in front of a cheering crowd and said:
“There’s somebody in the audience I’d like you to 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 Caesar’s 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 mutual respect.”
RELATED: Sir Tom Jones Talks About Living In Isolation As A Teen Due To Tuberculosis