Tom Jones previously opened up about his friendship with Elvis Presley, explaining how he had contributed to the King’s comeback. By the late 1960s, Presley’s career had stalled. It had been seven years since he last performed live and his focus had become aimed at the movies.
By 1968, Presley was dissatisfied with the calibre of films he was starring in and feeling disillusioned, distanced from a time he had his finger on the pulse of music industry trends.
Having formed a friendship with Welsh-born singer Jones in 1965, it was actually that relationship which helped give him the boost he needed to make his now famous ’68 comeback.
In an unearthed interview with Elvis Australia, Jones recalled how, three years after they first made friends, Presley had paid him the “ultimate compliment”.
“He hadn’t done any stage shows for some years because he’d been too busy making films and turning out hit records,” the Delilah hitmaker explained.
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“He was making a stage come back in Las Vegas, but was nervous about whether audiences would accept him.”
The comeback special already scheduled, Jones said Presley was nonetheless apprehensive about how his return would go down with fans.
“The music scene had moved into groups by then, and I was one of the very few solo singers performing in Vegas, so he wanted to see how I went down,” he said. “Elvis watching me? I couldn’t believe it.
“Luckily, I didn’t know in advance which show he would he attending; otherwise I’m sure I would’ve been terrified,” Jones admitted.
But watching Jones perform turned out to be exactly what Presley needed to inspire his epic comeback.
“Afterwards, he came backstage and said I’d given him the confidence to perform live again,” he said.
“He told me, ‘Everything’s changed so much. Groups are big now, with The Beatles being so successful, and I was afraid that the day of the solo performer was over.
“‘Also, I didn’t want to put on a show that would seem old-fashioned, but you’ve shown me that there’s still a big demand for the sort of thing I do.’”
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Jones went on to remember how successful Presley’s comeback had gone on to be.
“I was very pleased about that because I felt I’d been able to do something positive to help him in return for all the musical enjoyment he’d given me,” he told the publication.
“He, though, didn’t see it like that. He was a generous man and I think he always felt he owed me,” he added.
Jones was a fan of Presley long before they were friends, revealing how he bought all his records as a youngster so he could listen to them and study the rock ’n’ roll star’s signature singing style.
The It’s Not Unusual singer said he never wanted to copy Presley but was inspired by him.
They met when Jones first went to America and visited Paramount Studios, only to learn Presley was filming on a nearby sound stage and wanting to see him.
During their first conversation, something incredible happened: Presley asked Jones, “How the hell do you sing like you do?”
Stunned, the star replied: “Well, you are to blame, because I listened to all your records in the 1950s.”
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