Legendary crooner Tom Jones married his wife when they were both 16 in 1957 and they remained together until the day she died. Lady Melinda ‘Linda’ Woodward passed away on April 10 after a “fierce battle with cancer,” according to a statement on Jones’ Facebook page. She was surrounded by her loved ones in Los Angeles when she passed. That release says, “Sir Tom and his family have asked for privacy at this difficult time and no further information is currently available.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Jones Previously Said That He Wouldn’t Be Able to Continue Singing if His Wife Died
The pair are both natives of the Welsh town of Pontypridd. They first met when they were 12 years old and began dating. In 1957, the couple wed when they were both 16 as Woodward was expecting to give birth to their son, Mark. At the time, Jones was working in a glove factory and in construction in order to support his young family.
When they married, she changed her name from Trenchard to Woodward, which is Jones’ real name. In November 2015, Jones told USA Today about his wife’s influence on his career:
My wife keeps me grounded, to start with. I must have been getting quite large, drinking champagne, saying, ‘Look at this house.’ My wife was sitting in a corner talking to some other people, and she said, ‘You don’t think you’re Tom Jones, do you?’ I answered that of course I was Tom Jones, and she said, ‘It’s Tommy Woodward I married.’
According to Wales Online, Jones had told their son that if Woodward died, he wouldn’t be able to continue singing.
2. When Tom Jones Was Introduced to the World; He Was Marketed as a Single Man Despite the Fact He’d Been Married for Nearly 10 Years
When Jones exploded on to the music scene in 1965 with his song “It’s Not Unusual,” he was marketed as being 22, when he was really 24, single, when in reality he’d been married for eight years, and a miner. In reality, his father, Thomas, was the only coal miner in the family. Jones worked for a time at washing the miner’s backs in the mine.
Jones told the Daily Mail in 2012 that upon becoming famous, he persuaded his father to retire from working in the mine.
3. Jones Said That His Constant Cheating Resulted in His Wife Physically Assaulting Him
In 2006, Jones admitted in an interview that his wife had physically beaten him up after he told about his cheating. Jones said:
She beat me up physically one night. I said, ‘Look, I’m sorry,’ and she’d got the newspaper there. She said, ‘You…’ I said, ‘There it is [pointing at chin],’ and she went ‘Bang!’ And then started kicking me.
The singer didn’t say exactly when the beating took place. Famously, in 1989, Jones fathered a child with a model named Katherine Berkery. Despite his denials, Jones was proven as the father of son Jonathan after a paternity test. At the time, Woodward said, “I love Tom as much as I ever did, and he loves me. And nothing that these women throw at him will ever destroy that love.” Meanwhile Katherine Berkery told the Los Angeles Times after she was awarded child support, “I think he’s a disgusting human being.”
Jonathan Berkery, who now goes by Jon Jones, told the Sun in 2013 that he’s suffered due to his absent father. Jon Jones said, “It all stems back to my dad. I don’t think I realized it for a long time, but I was one angry kid, crying out for a father.”
4. The Couple Had One Son Together, Mark Woodward
The couple’s only son, Mark, was born shortly after the couple were married. Since the 1980s, he’s worked as his dad’s manager. The singer told the Daily Express in 2010, “When Mark became my manager he immediately got me out of the tight trousers and revamped my image. I look back at those trousers and think ‘No wonder’.”
Jones added that it was Mark Woodward’s birth that made him take singing more seriously, “I think it made me stronger. I felt I had responsibility.” He also said that the pair are more like brothers than father-and-son.
A New Yorker feature on Jones and his family says the Mark Woodward shares the management duties with his wife, Donna. Donna and Mark Woodward have two grown children together, Jones told USA Today, “He’s an accountant, and she’s an architect. They’re very bright people.” He adds:
They can both sing, though. My grandson can sing and play guitar, and he looks like a male model. But he doesn’t want to make a career of it, which I understand. It’s like showing off when you’re a kid. Some kids will hide; with me, I was always pulling on my mother’s skirt, asking, ‘When are they going to ask me to sing?’
5. In 2015, Jones Attracted Controversy by Saying That His Wife Had ‘Lost Her Spark’
In late 2015, Jones was forced to refute sexism allegations when the said in an interview that his wife had “lost her spark,” according to the Daily Mirror. Jones had told the tabloid that his wife had battled depression since they were a young couple. He added that she had let herself go and “lost her spark.” Despite this, Jones did add, “She’s the most important thing in my life. An unbelievable woman. Linda is the love of my life and she still is, even though she doesn’t look like she did. I don’t look like I did, either, but I try my best.”
During a separate interview with the Daily Telegraph, Jones corrected himself even further saying:
I didn’t say, ‘Linda has lost her spark.’ I said, ‘Linda feels she’s lost her spark.’ It’s not the same thing. She has emphysema and she’s not happy with the way she looks. I carry a young picture of her wherever I go because it’s a wonderful memory. But not because she looks better on it. I’ve asked her if I can take a new picture and carry that around, but she doesn’t want me to.
He then spoke about his love of talking to his wife on the phone because, “Age doesn’t matter on the phone.”