- NAME: Tom Waits
- OCCUPATION: Actor, Songwriter, Drummer, Guitarist, Singer
- BIRTH DATE: December 07, 1949 (Age: 64)
- Did You Know?: Tom Waits wrote "Jersey Girl," a song later made famous by Bruce Springsteen's cover version.
- EDUCATION: Hilltop High School
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Pomona, California
- Full Name: Thomas Alan Waits
- AKA: Thomas Waits
- AKA: Tom Waits
- ZODIAC SIGN: Sagittarius
Best Known For
American singer-songwriter Tom Waits is known for his musical tales of bohemians, drifters and misfits and for his stylistic blend of blues, folk and jazz.
Think you know about Biography?
Answer questions and see how you rank against other players.Play Now
American singer and musician Tom Waits was born in Pomona, California, on December 7, 1949. After early experience performing in nightclubs, he began recording in Los Angeles in the early 1970s and has continued to release new music for four decades. His smoky, gravelly voice is as distinctive as his stylistic mix of blues, jazz and pop; his eclectic instrumentation; and his lyrics about drifters and bohemians living on the wrong side of the tracks. Waits has also had a career as an actor,
"I've learned how to be different musical characters without feeling like I'm eclipsing myself. On the contrary, you discover a whole family living inside you."
appearing in more than two dozen films.
Tom Waits was born Thomas Alan Waits in Pomona, California, on December 7, 1949. He was one of three children of Jesse Frank and Alma Fern (née Johnson) Waits, who were both schoolteachers. Waits was raised primarily by his mother after his father left the family. He moved with his mother and sisters to San Diego, California, when he was 12 years old.
In 1968 Waits graduated from Hilltop High School in Chula Vista, California. He had learned to play piano and guitar, and during his high school years he performed in a rhythm-and-blues band called the Systems. His early musical influences were diverse, ranging from Lead Belly and Bob Dylan to Ray Charles and Frank Sinatra; his lyric-writing was especially colored by his reading of Jack Kerouac and other authors and poets of the Beat Era.
After finishing school, Waits worked as a doorman at a San Diego nightclub, served briefly in the Coast Guard and continued to perform his music whenever and wherever he could. He moved to Los Angeles in 1971 and was signed to the Asylum record label in 1972. While living in his car or in cheap hotels, he recorded his first album, Closing Time, which was released in 1973. His contract with Asylum lasted through the 1970s and resulted in further recordings, including Small Change (1976) and the live album Nighthawks at the Diner (1975).
Waits's signature musical style was early established as an offbeat combination of old vaudeville tunes, blues, jazz and pop. Singing in his raspy, gravelly voice over an accompaniment of piano, guitar and strings, he narrated his dark, occasionally comical tales of misfits and loners living out desperate adventures in gritty urban settings.
Waits's work during the 1980s featured more eclectic musical arrangements, as he added keyboards and brass instruments to his orchestration. On albums like 1983's Swordfishtrombones and 1985's Rain Dogs, he was also increasingly influenced by additional musical genres, including cabaret, tango and European folk sources.
His recordings during the 1990s continued this experimental trend and were praised by critics. Bone Machine, released in 1992, and 1999's Mule Variations were both awarded Grammys. His 1998 compilation album Beautiful Maladies and the box set Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards (2006) were also enthusiastically received. Although Waits has never produced chart hits or sold albums in record-breaking numbers, he has attracted a loyal audience and has become something of a musician's musician.
profile name: Tom Waits profile occupation:
Sign in with Facebook to see how you and your friends are connected to famous icons.
Your Friends' Connections
Included In These Groups
Imbibers 28 people in this group
Despite their fame and fortune, celebrities aren't immune to all the problems that afflict ordinary people. The problems of drug and alcohol addiction plagues many stars, particularly those who enjoy hard-partying lifestyles. Fortunately, many talented individuals have been able to kick their addictions and lead healthy lives. Here are some celebs who have sobered up.
Sober Celebs 55 people in this group
Famous Sagittarians 607 people in this group