It’s not unusual for a pop star to sleep around – and Sir Tom Jones has certainly done his fair share of that.
But what is surprising is the fact that his wife Linda (75) has stuck with him for nearly 60 years, despite his philandering, and he has remained with her even though he has described her as having “lost her spark”.
In a candid interview to publicise his newly released autobiography, Over the Top and Back, Tom says that Linda suffers from depression – and has done for most of their 58-year marriage. “I’ve realised she’s had depression since she was young. She’s always had a touch of it.”
He says she has rarely been to any of his performances because of nerves and has refused to fly since 9/11. Linda spends most of her time at their LA home, where she’s been known to hide in the bathroom when famous visitors, such as Robbie Williams, call by.
Years of heavy smoking have led to emphysema and she’s also had two brushes with cancer.
But Tom (75) is quick to point out, “Linda was the love of my life, and she still is, even though she doesn’t look like she did. I don’t look like I did either, but I try my best.”He says his marriage is “solid” and Linda is “an unbelievable woman. She’s the most important thing in my life. The rest is fun and games.”
The Welsh star was just 12 when he fell for local girl Linda Trenchard. He spent two years in bed with tuberculosis and remembers thinking about her constantly. When they were both 16, he got her pregnant and they married shortly before their only child, son Mark, was born.
Tom was 24 when his passion for singing led to him recording It’s Not Unusual, which became a huge success in 1965. Suddenly women were flinging themselves at him – he recalls once sitting on the toilet in a service station when girls burst into the restroom and tried to climb over the cubicle.
He doesn’t go into great detail in the book about the numerous flings he’s had. Tom says he’s lost count of the number of women he’s slept with, although in the past he claimed it was 250 a year at the peak of his fame.
His best-known affair was with American beauty queen Marjorie Wallace, who was crowned Miss World in 1973. Nearly four months later, she was stripped of her title after photos of her kissing Tom on a beach in Barbados were published. Their affair was deemed to be in violation of her Miss World contract. The affair with Marjorie was the one time the Sex Bomb singer’s dalliances backfired on him. When the story made newspaper headlines around the world, Linda went mad and beat him up at their home.
“I stood there and took it. She chinned me. I said, ‘Go ahead.’ She punched and she shouted.” Meanwhile, Marjorie, who was engaged to racing driver Peter Revson at the time, was devastated when her fiancé died in a crash 15 days after she lost her crown. She turned to Tom for comfort and a few months later, allegedly after Tom ended their affair on Linda’s orders, she took an overdose of sleeping pills. She survived, and later said it was accidental.
Linda also put an end to a two-year affair Tom had with The Supremes singer Mary Wilson. When she discovered her husband had set the singer up in a flat in Bournemouth, on England’s south coast, she told him, “Get that cow out of there.” She then asked Tom’s publicist, “How do I get to Bournemouth? I’m going to kill her.”
Linda was furious when US model Katherine Berkery claimed in 1989 that she was pregnant with Tom’s child. DNA tests showed he was the father of her son Jonathan and Tom paid maintenance, but has never met the now 26-year-old.
Luckily for Tom, most of his conquests have kept quiet. But earlier this year, American activist, author and politician Charlotte Laws (55) wrote about her three-year affair with Tom
in her autobiography. She claimed she was an 18-year-old virgin when he seduced her in 1979, and his son and manager Mark (58) arranged Tom’s “dates”. She would go on tour with him while he was in the US – Linda stayed at home in LA – and their relationship was an open secret.
In another recent interview, Tom says he will always love Linda. “We’ve gone through thick and thin. I also remember all those times growing up together which is why we will never split, no matter what has happened or what I have done.”
And he says although she has changed physically, when they talk on the phone, it’s as if neither of them have aged.
“When we are on the phone, the whole thing, the depression, leaves her. We’re both young again.”
Words by: Judy Kean