The Voice UK: Tom Jones on his fellow coaches and a legendary music career

"You have to be able to do it yourself to give that advice"

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Why did you want to be part of The Voice? 

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I’ve watched similar shows and have always found myself disagreeing with the judges on them. Why have they picked that singer when the other one was better? Then, when I saw The Voice in the States I found myself, despite not agreeing with all of the decisions, respecting them because all of the coaches were professional musicians. You have to be able to do it yourself to give that advice.

What do you bring to the coaching panel? 

Experience. What have I done to survive in the industry for 50 years and have a hit record in every decade? Only I know the secret to that. 

What do you make of your fellow coaches? 

I was the first coach to be asked but I was the last to sign because I wanted to know who I would be working with. They ran a lot of people by me and I believe we found a great balance. I was keen to have an international musician/ producer and Will.i.am came on board early; we thought of several different bands from which we could find someone from the rock world and Danny from the Script is great. And well, Jessie J’s voice speaks for itself — she is a firecracker! 

What was your earliest musical influence? 

As a kid I loved gospel, 50s rock ’n’ roll, blues and country when I heard it on the radio. I didn’t like the big band stuff — Frank Sinatra, bless him, and his swing was great, but there was a lot of it about. 

The first album you bought? 

It was a 78 of a song by Clyde McPhatter called Treasure of Love. There were a couple of record shops in Pontypridd where I grew up and the first thing I would buy with my pocket money was a record. 

What do you consider your big break? 

My original manager, Gordon Mills, discovered me in a small club in Wales. He wrote It’s Not Unusual for me, which was the beginning of everything. That first hit record changes your life. 

What is the best advice he gave you? 

When we came to England he told me to slow down and sing clearly so they’d understand me. I think I slowed it down too much, though, because after the first day he said, “They’re not stupid, you know…” 

What is the best advice you can give? 

The most important thing is to be confident in yourself and your instincts. I didn’t ever like the music everyone else was into. I knew what I liked and I wouldn’t be governed by anyone else’s opinion.

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The Voice UK is on BBC1 tonight at 7:00pm