Stars Salute Tom Jones In London

Kelly Jones of rock act Stereophonics and Cerys Matthews sang for fellow Welsh artist Tom Jones as the veteran singer was honored with the Music Industry Trusts' Award - the MITs - in London. Jones - or Sir Tom Jones to use his formal title, since his knighthood in 2006 - was recognized for his contribution to the music industry over the last 46 years. His second single "It's Not Unusual" went to No. 1 in the U.K. in 1964 and No. 10 in the U.S.

Celebrity fans including director Tim Burton and his wife Helena Bonham Carter turned out for the ceremony at the Grosvenor House Hotel last night (Nov. 1), as well as George Martin, TV presenter Rob Brydon, musical theatre performer Michael Ball, shadow chancellor Alan Johnson and numerous executives. Organizers sold 1,100 tickets for the event, which raises money for music therapy charity Nordoff Robbins and the BRIT Trust, which helps to support the BRIT School for the Performing Arts.

The MITs Award was first staged in 1992 and has raised a total of £3.75 million ($6 million) since then, with organizers hoping the 2010 event will take the running total above £4 million ($6.4 million). As well as ticket sales, the money rolled in from raffle tickets and a digital auction where diners could bid for items such as signed lyrics by Amy Macdonald and Sharleen Spiteri via a handheld device.

But the most dramatic fund-raising element of the evening was the live auction. The original signed artwork to Coldplay's "X+Y" album went for £4,500 ($7,200) - to the band's booking agent Steve Strange of London-based X-Ray. A John Lennon and Yoko Ono perspex and plastic sculpture, which was commissioned by Lennon and was originally sold in 1981 to Kate Bush, went for £14,000 ($22,440) last night. It was donated by Bush.

Jones himself donated a gold and diamond ring - apparently given to him by a "gangster's moll" in New York - which sold for £9,000 ($14,425) to Tim Burton, who out-bid his wife.

Burton presented the award to Jones and revealed he had been a fan since childhood. "He's inspired so many people and I've seen him in concert so many times, and he just gets better and better," said Burton, who cast Jones in the 1996 film "Mars Attacks!"

Friend of Elvis

Given Jones' longevity, there were plenty of stories and notable events to recount from his career. A film tribute featured Priscilla Presley recalling how Jones and Elvis Presley inspired each other musically when they became friends in the '60s, and lyricist Don Black described how Jones actually fainted after he hit the final note on "Thunderball" on the first take, which was the version used for the recording.

Kelly Jones had a hilarious story from a dozen years ago about how he went back to his flat with Tom Jones for a singing session after an evening out. The neighbor upstairs eventually went down and told Kelly to stop playing records by Tom Jones at high volume.

Kelly Jones also performed acoustic versions of "Summertime" and "Sea Of Heartbreak" while Cerys Matthews sang a reworked version of "She's A Lady," written by Paul Anka and recorded by Tom Jones. It was Jones' highest charting U.S. single, hitting No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1971.

Tom Jones said it was "wonderful, wonderful" as he received the award and the 70-year-old admitted he was "stuck for words." Rather than talk at length, he told the audience he would prefer to do a "few songs" and he was joined by the Tom Jones Band on versions of hits including "It's Not Unusual," "Kiss" and "The Green Green Grass Of Home."

Jones also performed songs from his latest gospel-flavored record and 39th studio album "Praise & Blame" (Island) - which hit No. 2 on the U.K. chart in the summer - and he was joined by Matthews on "What's New Pussycat?" from the 1965 film.

Kelly Jones sang and played guitar on a rousing rendition of "Mama Told Me Not To Come," which the pair recorded for the veteran singer's 1999 hit album "Reload."

Previous recipients of the award include Elton John, Kylie Minogue, Lucian Grainge, George Martin and broadcaster Jonathan Ross.

The evening was sponsored by Ingenious, PPL, PRS for Music and Spotify.

By Andre Paine

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