The Voice: Tom Jones dedicates performance to his late wife
The It’s Not Unusual crooner spent 59 years married to Melinda Rose Woodward, known as Lady Linda. She died less than a year before their 60th wedding anniversary. Sir Tom described her as “an unbelievable woman” before her heartbreaking death from lung cancer five years ago.
Sir Tom and Linda were school sweethearts and would regularly sneak off to a phone box at the end of her street to kiss as teenagers.
Decades later, when the council planned to remove the phone box, Sir Tom had it shipped and installed by his swimming pool.
After making the 5,300-mile journey from Treforest, Pontypridd, to Los Angeles, US, Sir Tom had a working phone fitted inside.
The couple tied the knot at 16 years old after Linda became pregnant and she gave birth to their son Mark Woodward, a month later.
Sir Tom’s rose to fame in 1965 after the release of It’s Not Unusual and shortly after went to the US to perform.
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There he brushed shoulders with his “idol” Elvis Presley and scores of fans, hundreds of whom he later confessed to having affairs with.
Sir Tom’s extramarital activities were so well-known that a backstage area where he took groupies was dubbed “the workbench”.
Linda is believed to have known about a great number of her husband’s affairs and kicked off after his fling with Miss World Marjorie Wallace was published in the newspapers.
Sir Tom confessed that Linda “beat him up” in their LA home.
In 2015, he told The Sunday Times: “I stood there and took it. She chinned me.
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“When she let fly, Dai [his bodyguard of the time] just left.
“I said, ‘Go ahead’ – she punched and shouted.”
After recounting the tale, Sir Tom admitted that Linda was “an unbelievable woman”.
He continued to add: “She’s the most important thing in my life. All the rest is fun and games.”
Despite being caught out, Sir Tom claimed to have no regrets that related to his love life.
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He said: “I never hurt anybody, it never backfired on me and my marriage is solid.”
Sir Tom recalled being in love with Linda from 12 years old, during his recovery from tuberculosis, which left him stuck in bed for two years.
He said: “When I had TB, I had a physical heartache for this girl.
“I remember standing in the doorway when it was raining.
“I don’t know what it is about rain but you seem to think more when it’s coming down.
“I was thinking, ‘Where is she? What is she doing?’”
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Decades later, when Linda was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, Sir Tom blamed himself and wondered if he could have done more.
She had a “short but fierce” battle before she died at the age of 75.
He explained that she had “smoked heavily” throughout her life and even in hotels she would request a bathroom with “an outside window” to smoke from.
Towards the end of her life, Linda had emphysema and at least two previous brushes with cancer before her terminal diagnosis.
During one of those earlier scares, Linda was discovered to have “very near-fatal colon cancer” Sir Tom feared for the future.
He told his son: “If your mother dies, I won’t be able to sing anymore.”
In an apparent bid to keep his father positive, Mark replied: “We’d better make sure she survives then.”
While Linda survived that battle with cancer, she died in 2016.
Sir Tom admitted that he struggled to listen to his late wife’s favourite song, Bob Dylan’s 1989 hit What Good Am I?.
In 2019, he explained that he didn’t know whether he would be able to sing it again – after covering the song a number of times.
He told the Daily Mirror: “I was reading into the lyrics thinking, ‘Jesus Christ, was I partly to blame?’”
Sir Tom admitted it was “the one thing I was scared of” because Linda “loved it”.
He continued: “The song is ‘What good am I if I’m like all the rest? If I don’t just turn away when I see how you’re dressed.’”
Sir Tom wondered whether he could have “saved her” if he “forced her to go to the doctors” when she refused to go.
He added: “It’s like, ‘Why couldn’t I have stopped it?’”
Eventually, he realised that there was nothing he could have done because when she was diagnosed it was “too late”.
Sir Tom Jones will feature on The Voice, which airs at 8.30pm Saturday on ITV.
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