Tom Jones had his audience in tears after he made his first public appearance since the death of his wife, Linda. The 75-year-old Welsh singer told fans at the Hay Festival in Wales that his late wife was the most important thing in his life, according to BBC News. Tom’s wife died of cancer in April.
A teary-eyed Tom Jones was on hand at the festival to promote his new autobiography, Over the Top and Back, which details his six decades in show business. But it was clear to fans that the most important chapter in Jones’ life was his 59 years with his childhood sweetheart.
“I realized that she’s always been very important to me, throughout my life, Jones told the crowd. But I now I realize she might have been the most important thing in my life – and she still is.”
The famous singer also revealed that he never considered leaving the love of his life even though he had a reputation as a ladies’ man, especially when he was young and traveling the world.
“No. Never,” Tom said. “Never crossed my mind – it didn’t cross her mind. It was solid. We had a solid marriage that nothing could shake and we both felt that. I felt very lucky to have fallen in love at an early age. We were teenagers, we fell in love, not just in lust. A lot of teenagers fall in lust and then it doesn’t last. But we knew this thing was forever, for as long as we would be alive. That’s how strong the marriage was.”
Tom Jones met his future wife at age 12. The couple married in 1957 at age 16 and had one son, Mark, who is now 59 and works as Tom’s manager. But things were far from perfect, a fact that the singer has admitted to in previous interviews. While Linda was the love of Tom’s life and soulmate, their union was unconventional. According to the Daily Mail, Jones told ITV host Jonathan Ross that his wife once beat him up after she got wind of one of his affairs. Still, the couple never had an infidelity “pact” or any type of agreed-upon open marriage.
“No no no,’ Tom said last year. “She would chin me if I tried to say that, which she did when she found out about this one thing…It was never discussed, I was never put on the spot. Linda is a wonderful person and she would never put me on the spot. She loves being married to me and I love being married to her so whatever happened…Of course, and she beat me up one night because a thing came out in the newspaper and I think she was more bothered because it was in the press, if it had just been between us we could have dealt with it much easier.”
With Linda now gone, Jones said coping with her death has been the hardest thing he has ever been through.
“It’s very difficult, the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” Tom told the book festival crowd, according to Closer. “We were married for 59 years, we knew each other since we were kids. It was fast, she had cancer. I was in the Philippines, that was when I got the call, that it was terminal. I had to stop. So I flew back to Los Angeles and she had a week left, in the hospital.”
And while the “Sweet Caroline” singer even considered throwing in the towel on his career, he says his wife told him he needed to move forward without her.
“I have to do it,” Jones said of moving on with his career. When Linda passed away it hit me so hard I didn’t know whether I could or not, I really didn’t. I said, ‘Linda I don’t know what I’m going to do.’ She could see I was devastated, and I was. She said ‘Don’t worry, you’ll be alright. Don’t worry about it. Just go forward’.”
Tom Jones will kick off a tour in the UK on June 8.
Take a look at the video below to see Tom Jones talking about his marriage.
[Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images for GQ]