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Who Is Tom Waits? What Is Tom Waits Famous For?

Deeply influenced by the musicians like Bob Dylan, Lord Buckley, and Louis Armstrong, Tom Waits is an artist who created his own space in the music industry. Tom Waits is known for his deep, gravel, and mellow voice, which is a very rare combination.

Even though Tom was deeply influenced by many popular musicians before him, he never tried to copy or imitate them. Instead, Tom focused on his style. Tom is not a musician who was known for following conventional ways.

The was a person who loved to experiment with new and different types of music, Tom Waits is mostly known for his unconventional songs in the genre of blues, jazz, and vaudeville. 

Who Is Tom Waits?

Tom Waits was born on December 7, 1949, in Pomona, California. He was born into a middle-class family and he often described that he had a very ‘normal childhood’. It was in High School that Tom started to find his interest in music.

He learned buigle and guitar in High school and later his father taught him to play the Ukulele. Tom Waits once said that it was an uncle who had a raspy, gravelly voice that influenced him to sing the way he later sang.

Tom Waits began his music career in 1971. The single was offered a publishing and recording contract by Herb Cohen. The recordings that were produced under the contract were released in the 1990s under the name ‘Early Years, Volume one’ and ‘Early Years, Volume Two’.

Later, while Tom was performing at Troubadour, he met David Geffen who offered Tom another recording contract with his Asylum Records. The resulting album was published under the name ‘Closing Time’ in March 1973. Much to the disappointment, the album attracted very little attention and it did not sell well. 

Tom’s music career did not get successful over those years. He went on tours accompanying other artists at that time. The lack of success was also starting to reflect in his personal life as Tom was reported to be an alcoholic during those times. His music also started to reflect his mood. The album ‘Small Change’ which was released in 1976 featured songs that reflected sadness and gloominess. His 1980 album ‘Heartattack and Vine’ was the album that earned him a position in Australia’s top 40 chart, where he was at 30. 

Tom Waits got married to Kathleen Brennan in 1980. Kathleen was also a singer, songwriter, record producer, and artist. Since they got married, the couple had been writing songs together. Most of his songs that were released after 1992 were written together by Tom and Kathleen.

The couple had three children together who are named Kellesimone, Casey, and Sullivan. After their marriage, Tom became very protective of his family’s privacy. He has also refused a sanction for his biography. The family now lives in Sonoma County, California. 

Along with singing and songwriting, Tom Waits has also proven his role as a talented actor. With a career span of more than thirty years, Tom Waits had been a part of nearly 40 movies. Tom Waits debuted his acting career in 1978. At first, he appeared in very minor roles which later on changed to notable characters.

Some of the major works that Tom Waits was a part of include the 1992 ‘Bram Stoker’s Dracula’, ‘Seven Psychopaths’ which was released in 2012, and ‘The Simpsons’ in 2013 for which he voiced the character Lloyd. The latest movie that Tom Waits was a part of was the movie ‘Licorice Pizza’ which was released in 2021. 

Even though Tom Waits is a notable figure in the field of entertainment, he is not the crowd-puller or the global sensation that we often see happening for other stars who had been a part of the industry for such a long time. One of the main reasons for this is his experimental music which is not well-received by a majority of people.

Tom Waits’s music mainly focuses on genres like blues, jazz, and vaudeville which are not preferred by most people. Though he has managed a cult following for his one-of-a-kind music, Wits mostly is met with mixed reviews for his music from the U.S. 

Throughout his career, Tom has won a few awards for his contribution to the field of music and entertainment. His 1992 album ‘Bone Machine’ has won the prestigious Grammy Award under the category the Best Alternative Album. In 2000, he received the Grammy for the second time. This time, he won it for his album Mule Variations’ under the category of Best Contemporary Folk Album.

Finally in 2011, singer, songwriter, and filmmaker Neil Young inducted Tom Waits into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at a function held in Waldorf-Astoria. Mr. Waits now leads a happy life with his wife and kids and he calls himself a lucky man for having what he has today. 

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