Tom Jones was and has always been a colorful character. His actual Christian name is Thomas John Woodward. His son, Mark Woodward, was an acquaintance and managed his father. And at one time—around the early 2000s—I had discovered that Tom didn’t have a recording contract after reading a story on him in The Wall Street Journal. So I reached out to his office and tried to see if he wanted to record for Koch Records. But Tom was content as it was, and so he politely declined.
A few years later, I learned Tom would be in town to perform at Irving Plaza. So I reached out, got a couple of tickets, and took Tony Bennett’s younger daughter, Antonia, as my guest. She had never seen him perform live and really enjoyed the show, as Tom was particularly on fire that night. We also got to see him briefly after the show.
On another occasion, I got a text from Tom’s son that they were in town again, and they asked if I would join them for a drink after a special honor Tom was receiving from the Friars club in Manhattan. So we all met at one of my local watering holes called Seppi’s, which was housed in the Parker Meridien hotel on West 56th Street—this is where Tom always stays when he’s in town. So it was ideal.
Well, this night was a lot of fun because I was able to invite a couple of my special friends to share in the experience. I believe Sarah Hayes and Judith Lalor, then owner of Swing 46, came along for the ride. Judith was particularly tickled because she hailed from Great Britain. One of Tom’s best friends was also in attendance. He looked just like Cary Grant, for which I was ribbing him all night as he wore those same dark-rimmed glasses that Cary used to wear in his later years.
Tom was very generous and ordered several bottles of Veuve Clicquot, which the bartender had placed in ice buckets along the bar. The Champagne kept flowing, and we freely drunk until the wee hours of the morning, laughing and just hamming it up the entire time. We snapped many pictures together, which I’m still trying to get from Judith after all these years, as it was truly one of my most memorable Manhattan evenings. Thank you, Sir Tom!
Former restauranteur, musician, concert promoter, producer, publisher, manager, and impresario, Charles Carlini has synthesized these roles to become a dynamic force in the music industry–noted for his ability to bring diverse talent together to create innovative concerts and recordings that reach and move music-lovers everywhere.