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Looking Back: It's not unusual for Tom Jones to be loved by everyone (August 10, 1971)

Entertainer Tom Jones is greeted at Tampa International Airport by his fans. 

TIMES | Larry Alspaugh

Entertainer Tom Jones is greeted at Tampa International Airport by his fans. TIMES | Larry Alspaugh

This story appeared in the pages of the St. Petersburg Times on August 10, 1971. What follows is the text of the original story, interspersed with photos of the event taken by Times staff photographer Larry Alspaugh.

Fans Jilted, But Still Love Jones

By Ron Speer

Times Staff

TAMPA – Shapely, Sherry Roche, a 24-year-old secretary who's husband thought she was "silly" went hungry Monday in a bid to get Tom Jones' autograph.

Her fast, however, was in vain.

And skipping lunch didn't pay off for eight other young women who cracked the secrecy surrounding Jones' arrival at Tampa International Airport.

TIMES | Larry Alspaugh

They were able to able to find out when he was coming – but they still didn't get autographs.

The Welsh entertainer, in Tampa to pick up a guaranteed $50,000 for two Monday night performances at Curtis Hixon Hall, wasn't in an autograph signing mood. Not even for the handful of women who dug out the secret that his chartered United Airlines Jet was arriving at 12:29 p.m.

They were clustered around the big, black limousine at the ramp of the plane when Jones walked down. Wearing brown slacks and a chocolate colored shirt, casually unbuttoned over his chest, Jones stepped into the limousine and sped off. Mrs. Roach said she wasn't disappointed that he didn't take time to autograph her pad.

TIMES | Larry Alspaugh

TIMES | Larry Alspaugh

"He's the toughest man I've seen in all my life," said the striking blond. "I'm glad I got to see him even if he didn't sign."

But she appeared to be hurt, and another secretary said she was upset that the 31-year-old millionaire singer had spurned the girls at the airport.

"I'm disappointed," said 20-year-old Fran Pultz. "He could have at least said hello. There were just a few of us there." Both Fran and Sherry had their $12 tickets to Jones' 9:30 p.m. show with them but there was little chance that they would get his autograph then.

TIMES | Larry Alspaugh

Known as a man who "arouses the animal instincts in women" Jones goes to elaborate lengths to keep his female fans away.

His trip to Tampa – which will include a couple of days rest before he heads out on tour again – was typical of his stops around the U.S.

And the secrecy and the security arrival was that of a traveling American president.

Unlike presidents, however, Jones doesn't like to "press the flesh" with the folks.

TIMES | Larry Alspaugh

A cluster of fans are told Tom Jones will not sign autographs.

His advance people claim they didn't know when his plane was arriving. And they couldn't or wouldn't say where he was staying. He was whisked up to his fifth floor suite at the Manger Motor Inn before even the all-knowing bell boys knew he was planning to stay there.

And after Jones arrived, they were told to keep their mouths shut.

TIMES FILES

Shown above is an architect's drawing of the Manger Motor Inn, a $5,000,000,7-story, 280-room building to be erected in downtown Tampa.

While Jones was resting, others were making plans to assure a triumphant and safe performance in the Curtis Hixon Hall arranged in the round.

Jones' contract specifies that 100 uniformed policemen be on hand to control the crowd and they were, with the tallest up front.

"Only policemen 6'2" and over are up there around him," said police detective L. F. Napoli, who made four test runs during the afternoon to make sure the driver of Jones' limousine could get him safely from the hotel to hall. The plan sent Jones from his room down a service elevator, out the kitchen and into a freight dock where the limousine was awaiting with the motor running. A winding one-mile drive to the hall took about five minutes, and the limousine drove right to the building where massive doors clanged down behind it to keep out the curious.

TIMES | Larry Alspaugh

The people that paid $6 to $12 a ticket to watch Jones perform however, knew he was here.

His booming voice cracked through the hall for an hour at the first of his two shows as he sang favorites of Tom Jones fans.

Women with backless dresses, some with almost frontless dresses, were scattered throughout the crowd estimated at about 5,000 by police. A sellout crowd of about 6,800 was expected for the second show.

TIMES | Larry Alspaugh

Jones, going through the bumps and grinds which turn on his feminine followers, kissed three-year-old Susan at ringside along with quite a few older women.

Among his most popular songs were "I Who Have Nothing," "Delilah," "Bridge Over Troubled Water," and "Daughter of Darkness."

Jones mentioned the heat throughout the performance, and as sweat scattered from his shaking body, women tossed scarves and handkerchieves and Kleenexes and lots of lingerie onto the stage. Jones wiped his brow with nearly every pair of panties thrown and chided the fans who only offered him Kleenex.

TIMES | Larry Alspaugh

To order reprints, license or download any Times image from this gallery, or to see other Tom Jones photos, please visit the Times image archive.

Jeremy King

Twitter: @TBTimesArchive

e-mail: [email protected]

Looking Back: It's not unusual for Tom Jones to be loved by everyone (August 10, 1971) 04/20/17 [Last modified: Thursday, April 20, 2017 9:44am]
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