DAYTONA BEACH -- Hey, you MTV kids: Long before Justin Timberlake proclaimed "I'm bringing sexy back," a strapping lad from Wales -- the son of a coal miner -- was bringing sexy to Las Vegas showrooms and concert stages on both sides of the Atlantic. With an onstage swagger and a power-croon voice that would make King Kong quake in his boots, Tom Jones racked up 17 Top 40 hits from 1965 to '71, including such bombastic pop songs as "What's New Pussycat?" and "It's Not Unusual." But Jones wasn't finished mining pop music after his initial run. In 1988, he teamed with the Art of Noise for a hit remake of Prince's "Kiss." Throughout the '90s, he refreshed his hip quotient via a number of duets with such Gen-X favs as Tori Amos, Portishead, Stereophonics and, most famously, with Mousse T. on "Sex Bomb." Jones also teamed with producer Wyclef Jean to craft an electro-funky remake of the Leadbelly song "Black Betty," and he sang Randy Newman's "You Can Leave Your Hat On" for the film "The Full Monty."Sir Tom -- he was knighted by Britain's Queen Elizabeth last year -- is still bringing sexy back. The 66-year-old singer performs Tuesday at Peabody Auditorium in Daytona Beach. You still have questions about the wailer from Wales? Here's everything you wanted to know about Mr. Jones but were afraid to ask.
Q. OK, what's the deal with Tom Jones and panties?
Google "Tom Jones" and "panties" and you get 619,000 hits -- in 0.09 seconds!
In the mid-1960s, Mr. Jones' onstage swagger made the female fans swoon -- not so much the teenyboppers, but rather the same ladies who loved crooner-era Elvis.
But how to pay tribute to this future noble Knight of the British Empire? One fan got the idea to take off her undies and toss them at Mr. Jones during a concert. Soon, it was not unusual for his legion of adoring, panting female fans to toss their dainties onstage at show after show after show.
Q. So, we ladies should prepare accordingly for Sir Tom's Peabody concert?
Alas, according to an unconfirmed posting on one of those 619,000 Web sites, Jones said in a 2005 interview that the ritual has lost its charm, and he now prefers his fans keep their panties on.
Q. What is Sir Tom's most memorable screen adventure?
This is a tough one. Along with that song for "The Full Monty," Jones also sang the theme for the 1965 James Bond flick "Thunderball," and for the 1965 Woody Allen-Peter Sellers-Peter O'Toole film "What's New Pussycat?"
According to "The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll," Jones had a variety TV show in 1970, and, for one episode,he teamed with rock chick Janis Joplin (!) for an extreme bump 'n' grind duet.
In 2003, according to his own Web site, Jones sang the theme song for the cartoon series "Duck Dodgers," and a cartoon version of him even guest-starred in one episode.
But for my money, Jones' screen glory peaked when he guest-starred as himself on "The Simpsons" in 1991 -- with his cartoon self this time sporting suave banana-yellow skin.
Q. Who's the best guitarist ever to back Tom Jones?
That's easy. Before Jimmy Page launched Led Zeppelin in 1969, and before he joined the Yardbirds in the mid-1960s, he worked as a session guitarist in recording studios. That's young Jim's guitar dueling with Tom's bombastic pipes on the singer's first hit, "It's Not Unusual," from 1965.
Q. Who are the biggest Sir Tom fans not to toss panties at him?
There are several candidates. According to Rolling Stone, both Elvis and Paul McCartney were big fans. And Rolling Stone says Sir Paul (he's a knight, too, remember) even wrote "The Long and Winding Road" especially for Jones.
Q. Will at least one pair of ladies' undies make a guest appearance onstage at the Peabody?
You betcha. If You Go
WHO: Tom Jones WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday WHERE: Peabody Auditorium, 600 Auditorium Blvd., Daytona Beach TICKETS: $45, $50 and $60 plus service charges, available at the Peabody box office and Ticketmaster INFORMATION: (386) 671-3460 Fans: You can keep your hat, panties on
By RICK de YAMPERT Entertainment Writer newsjournalonline.com