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1-800-TOM-JONES

"Hello, Police? Someone stole my trousers!"

“Hello, Police? Someone stole my trousers!”

During the mid-1970’s, Welsh Pop vocalist/Chippendale’s dancer Tom Jones had become so financially successful that he, like many British music celebrities, fled the United Kingdom to avoid a taxation system which deducted up to 98% of all unearned income (recording/publishing royalties) over 20,000 pounds ($70,000 in today’s money); yikes!  While Ringo Starr relocated to Monaco, David Bowie headed for Switzerland and The Rolling Stones exiled in France, Jones went west and settled, like ‘The Fresh Prince’, in upscale Bel Air, California (‘Harold Wilson was up to no good/started taking taxes in my neighborhood’) where he would go on to powerfully impact a young, Carlton banks.  But that’s a different story…

As anyone who has ever been forced to live abroad will tell you, it’s the little things you really miss; the sound of the wind in the local trees, the smell of an old neighborhood market and, of course, the telephone-booths*. When homesickness set in for Tom Jones (born Thomas Woodward), a coalminer’s son raised in the tiny, welsh valley town of Pontypridd, he decided to import a little piece of the past to his new estate in Beverly Hills.  During catch-up conversation with childhood pals, the singer learned that a phone box located near his parent’s old house was being replaced with an updated model and, like the incredibly tight trousers he donned at his concerts during this era, jones was determined to squeeze into it at any cost.

young tom jones

“Excuse me, I’m expecting a call!”

Very quickly, necessary arrangements were made with the community council and for a modest fee of 50,000 pounds (nearly 250,000 dollars today), Her Majesty’s property was, after five hours of jackhammering, lifted out of its foundation, purchased and shipped directly to Los Angeles for installation next to the Jones family swimming pool.  Once the iconic, red booth was firmly cemented into California ground, Jones wired it up with an American phone-line and, for the sake of practicality, a towel-shelf was constructed just beneath the receiver.  The former Mr. Woodward explained, “When I was 18, if you dialed Pontypridd 3667, the chances were you’d got me in that box. That was my home, my first office. I courted girls from it and my family began in it (not literally mind you), and it is as much part of my life as my first gold records”.

Years later, when a Margaret Thatcher-led government eased high-end tax burdens, Tom Jones returned to the green, green grass of the UK (80’s rock stars may have publicly mocked Thatcher and the Conservatives but they voted with their feet/Lear jets, didn’t they?) and, during the 1990’s, reignited his career with a clunky cover of Princes’ (not the ‘Fresh’ one) ‘Kiss’ and the dirty-old-man classic ‘Sex Bomb’.  Jones’s California property was subsequently purchased by Nicolas Cage who had no use for unnecessary towel storage facilities and, to tom’s mortification, ripped the old girl out.  When news about the box’s demise got to Britain, the Welshman was adamant about ‘Pontypridd 3667s’ eventual transatlantic reestablishment, “Nic cage has had a lot of work done and I heard that he has pulled it out of the ground. I want it back,” much like you probably want the time it took to read this article.

Sorry, I have to say it; that is unusual.

*If you are under the age of 20, someone might have to explain who Margaret Thatcher is and how a ‘telephone’ works

Posted on by andycooper in CLASSIC POP, SAY WHAT?!

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