Listen to Tom Jones on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs

Kirsty Young's castaway is the singer Sir Tom Jones. In a career spanning fifty years he's sold 150 million albums and his hits have included It's Not Unusual, What's New Pussycat? and Delilah. As a child it was assumed he'd follow in his father's footsteps and become a miner. But he developed TB when he was twelve and doctors warned his parents against sending their only son to the pit; they said his lungs were too weak. Now aged seventy, he has no plans to retire. "Singing's like breathing to me", he says, "my voice drives me, it tells me that I have to do it".

Music played

  1. Jerry Lee Lewis Jerry Lee Lewis A Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On

    Jerry Lee Lewis: the EP Collection, See for Miles
  2. Vaughn Monroe Riders in the Sky

    The History of Country Music: The Forties: Vol.1, Kenwest
  3. Mahalia Jackson The Old Rugged Cross

    Mahalia Jackson sings the Best-loved Hymns of Dr Martin Luther King Jr., CBS
  4. Bill Haley Rock Around the Clock

    24 Jukebox Hits Of The 50s, Black Tulip
  5. Spike Jones and His City Slickers Der Fuehrer’s Face

    The Best of Spike Jones and his City Slickers., RCA
  6. Aretha Franklin Aretha Franklin I never Loved a Man

    Aretha Franklin: 30 Greatest Hits, Atlantic
  7. Big Bill Broonzy Big Bill Broonzy Black Brown and White

    Black Brown and White, Mercury
  8. Humphrey Lyttelton Humphrey Lyttelton Bad Penny Blues

    Time to Remember 1956, EMI

Listen to the programme on the BBC iplayer here