It’s Not Unusual is the song that launched Tom Jones’ career, though it wasn’t originally intended for the Welsh crooner. Instead, Eurovision-winner Sandie Shaw turned it down, and it launched Jones onto the global music scene.
To hear the song and what The Right Hook contributor Bill Hughes makes of it, tune in to this evening’s show at 6.35pm: http://www.newstalk.com/player/
Tom Jones has been and remains a sex symbol, strutting his stuff and gyrating his hips on stage. Baring his chest has propelled countless pairs of underwear in his direction. But did he really on insure his chest hair for £3.5m?
Headlines all over the world ran wild in 2008, when the news broke that the singer, then 67, still sporting his jet-black perm, had taken out an insurance policy on his pectoral follicles. It wasn’t the first time that the story had run, with Jones long identified as the mystery male celebrity who’d anonymously asked his agent to investigate the cost of the cover, before pulling the plug at the last minute.
Some reports claimed that Lloyd’s of London, “sceptical at first,” had finally okayed the policy, willing to take a risk on Sir Tom’s famously rugged hairy chest. There are some articles, buried deep on the Lloyd’s website, referring to the company drafting a plan to consider insuring the chest hair of male model, but everyone involved in the story agrees that no such contract was ever sold, and that Tom Jones was never actually involved.
But the deep-throating testimony of an unnamed “body hair mole” set the Internet ablaze when Tom Jones was linked to the policy by The Daily Mirror. “Like a vintage wine,” the source is quoted as saying, “Tom just gets better with age. Even at the grand old age of 67, the ladies love his hip-thrusting moves and catching a sneak peak of his famously rugged chest hair.”
From there the story went viral, filling webpages and column inches as the news wire services sent it around the world.
What’s new, pussycat?
But the story was old even then, having first surfaced in 2004, with several articles attributing the policy to Lloyd’s underwriter Jonathan Thomas, quoting him as saying: “Admittedly, this is one of the most obscure requests I've had -- but I still came up with a wording that addressed the need."
But how did Tom Jones’ chest get caught up in this?
Well, it is not unusual for a busy sub-editor somewhere to be quickly scanning through a story, and glimpse the name Tom Jones and put two and two together. In the wire story distributed by Agence France-Presse back in 2004, Lloyd’s Jonathan Thomas makes a passing reference to “woolly Welsh singer” Tom Jones, and lo – a headline was written.
For his part, Tom Jones has always denied that he tried to insure his chest hair, and even makes a statement to that effect on his website.