'Sex bomb' Sir Tom makes a desert island confession

The singer admits he 'created a monster' and often 'over indulged'. Andrew Johnson listens in
Click to follow

It's been a long time coming, in the words of the soul standard, but today the veteran Welsh singer Sir Tom Jones comes close to finally admitting what the world has always known – that he hasn't always been faithful to his wife of more than 50 years. Temptation, he confessed, had made him "weak-minded".

Speaking on Desert Island Discs, Sir Tom – still riding high at the age of 70 with his critically acclaimed gospel-inspired album Praise & Blame – confesses he "created a monster" with his sexual image and often "over indulged". Asked about his "über male, sexually voracious" status by the presenter Kirsty Young, the singer of the song "Sex Bomb" replies: "I did feel like that. Sex Bomb, you can't get away from that title. When you do things, sometimes you create a monster without actually realising.

"Sometimes it's over-indulgent; sometimes I should rein myself in a little bit. I've always tried to, but sometimes things get the better of you, and I'm a little weak-minded in certain areas. It's not an area of my life that I'm proud of."

Sir Tom, born in Pontypridd, Wales, shot to fame in 1965 with what has now become a classic hit, "It's Not Unusual". He went on to sell more than 150 million records.

However, it was his 1999 album, Reload, on which he duetted with contemporary stars such as Cerys Matthews and the Manic Street Preachers, that proved to be his best-selling record. It revived a career that had hit the doldrums after his heyday in the 1970s when he was paid about £9m over three years for his American television show.

Reload was masterminded by his son Mark, who is also his manager. "Mark knows me better than anyone else," says Jones. "Having a son that young, we grew up together. I was a teenager when he was born. More like a brother."

The singer also talks about the personal nature of his new album, and the single "Nobody's Fault But Mine". "It's a very poignant song, because it's about questioning yourself."

The gospel and blues influence on his work is reflected in his chosen discs, which include Jerry Lee Lewis's "Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On", Big Bill Broonzy's "Black, Brown and White" and Humphrey Lyttelton's "Bad Penny Blues".

He spends much of the interview looking back on life before fame and his upbringing in Pontypridd. "You'd get into fights, but that was normal. I got nutted in the head a few times, and punched. My wife had to go to work, to a factory, and I was stuck in London and didn't like it. So I did get depressed. I said to my band members that if this record didn't make it I had a good mind to go home."

He adds that fame had little to do with his success with women, recalling his days working in a glove factory. "We'd all mix at the Christmas party, and I was the only male who could jive. Well, I was a kid in the candy shop."

Desert Island Discs, BBC Radio 4, today 11.15am and Friday 9am