If you’re a fan of Tom Jones and you don’t care who knows it, then no one needs to justify the jovial Welsh superstar’s lounge-soul covers of pop, R&B, and rock songs to you. Certain purists have been a tougher sell on Jones’ act, including, in 1969, Neil Young, who joined Jones onstage once, and only once, on the This is Tom Jones show and immediately regretted it. But who cares about Neil Young’s cranky dislike of commercial television? Who is Neil Young to say we can’t enjoy Jones’ bravado vocals on Crosby, Stills, Nash & sometimes Young’s “Long Time Gone”? The audience sure got a kick out of it, as apparently did the rest of the band.
Janis Joplin didn’t have any such hangups when she went on Jones’ show that same year. Well, she had a hangup, but it wasn’t Jones. “God bless her,” Jones remembered, “she said to me when she came on, ‘Look, I don’t do variety shows; I’m only doing it because it’s you.’ So she saw through it. Then when Janis and I did the rehearsal for Raise Your Hand she looked at me and said, ‘Jesus, you can really sing! (laughs) I thought, thank God people like Janis Joplin had taken note.” If she outshines Jones in the televised performance of the song, above, and I think we can agree she does, he doesn’t seem to mind it much.
Jones may not have had much rock cred; he would never have been invited to share the Woodstock stage with CSNY and Joplin, but as a singer, he’s always earned tremendous respect from everyone, and rightly so.
“Tom held his own,” writes Society of Rock, “and kept up beautifully as he was swept up in the storm that was Janis Joplin’s stage presence, trading verbal licks and sending her into fits of joy when he let go and surrendered to her overwhelming energy. This wasn’t just your regular, run of the mill variety show but then again, nothing was ordinary after Janis was through with it.”
This includes any stage that had her on it, which she immediately dominated as soon as she opened her mouth. Hear her live version of “Raise Your Hand” at Woodstock from earlier that year, further up, and see her tear it up in Frankfurt on her European tour with the Kozmic Blues Band. “I make it a policy not to tell anyone to sit down,” she says by way of introduction. “That’s to encourage everybody to stand up.” Joplin’s death the following year deprived the world of one of its all-time greatest blues singers, but thanks to the internet, and Tom Jones, we’ll always have performances like these to remember her by.
Tom Jones Performs “Long Time Gone” with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young–and Blows the Band & Audience Away (1969)
Watch Janis Joplin’s Final Interview Get Reborn as an Animated Cartoon
Janis Joplin’s Last TV Performance & Interview: The Dick Cavett Show (1970)
Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness
Thanks I liked her raspy voice and Wild funky sounds back in the day. 75 now but her vibe still makes me wanna shake a leg !!! Tom Jones also, and Joe Cocker 💥
Nur ein Bein schütteln, Herr Reynolds?
Bei mir schleicht sich bei Janis’ Wahnsinns-Stimme regelmäßig ‘ne Träne in’s Auge…
Love Tom Jones And Janis Joplin great article thank you The young people dont know what they missed
La Janis es un dels meus idols 😍 gràcies pels vostres vídeos 🙏
Janis is one of my idols 😍 thanks for your videos 🙏
Those who have experienced Tom Jones in person know what a powerful singer he is, even now at 80. His voice can rock all genres of music. His vocal range is amazing, and he always delivers with emotion, nuance, and energy. On his tv hit show he sang with some of the best, including Janis, and he adjusted his style and voice to seamlessly fit with that artist. He is THE LEGEND, THE VOICE in my book – for almost 60 years!
Being a 60’S person,l saw Janis Joplin LIVE
In San Francisco. She totally and ROYALLY
rocked the stage, bottle of whiskey and all!
Thankyou for that… so energising. In my 70’s now but it transports me back to naughty days and nights and happy times when we took our liberty/freedom for granted. I am grateful for having lived my life through the 60’s and 70’s and wish the young now could have half as much happiness and fun…. xxxxannie
Actually Tom Jones first love was blues. He was on the ground floor of the British blues revival but life changed his course.The cool thing about his show was he controlled the musical guest selection and always had someone great on, always top shelf back in the day, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Janis
Tom Jones should be in the Hall of Rock and Roll. Iconic golden voice. So many truly fantastic duets.
I was f ing fortunate enough to see her at The Avalon Ballroom in the city when l was 12 years.l was with my favorite cousin and her friends that didn’t treat me like a twit.She was f ing amazing as she is still now.Years later l l met the family dog Chet Helms when l I lived in Marin.l don’t remember remember paying to get into Avalon Ballroom.