152 Facts About Tom Waits


Thomas Alan Waits was born on December 7,1949 and is an American musician, composer, songwriter, and actor.


Tom Waits worked primarily in jazz during the 1970s, but his music since the 1980s has reflected greater influence from blues, rock, vaudeville, and experimental genres.


Tom Waits was born and raised in a middle-class family in California.


Tom Waits relocated to Los Angeles in 1972, where he worked as a songwriter before signing a recording contract with Asylum Records.


Tom Waits repeatedly toured the United States, Europe, and Japan, and attracted greater critical recognition and commercial success with Small Change, Blue Valentine, and Heartattack and Vine.


Tom Waits produced the soundtrack for Francis Ford Coppola's film One from the Heart, and subsequently made cameo appearances in several Coppola films.


In 1980, Tom Waits married Kathleen Brennan, split from his manager and record label, and moved to New York City.


Tom Waits continued appearing in films, notably starring in Jim Jarmusch's Down by Law, and made theatrical appearances.


Tom Waits was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011.


Thomas Alan Tom Waits was born on December 7,1949, in Whittier, California.


Tom Waits has one older sister and one younger sister.


Tom Waits's father, Jesse Frank Waits, was a Texas native of Scots-Irish descent, while his mother, Alma Fern, hailed from Oregon and had Norwegian ancestry.


Jesse taught Spanish at a local school and was an alcoholic; Tom Waits later related that his father was "a tough one, always an outsider".


Tom Waits described having a "very middle-class" upbringing and "a pretty normal childhood".


Tom Waits attended Jordan Elementary School, where he was bullied.


Tom Waits later recalled that it was an uncle's raspy, gravelly voice that inspired the manner in which he later sang.


In nearby Southeast San Diego, Tom Waits attended O'Farrell Community School, where he fronted a school band, the Systems, later describing the group as "white kids trying to get that Motown sound".


Bob Dylan later became a strong influence, with Tom Waits placing transcriptions of Dylan's lyrics on his bedroom walls.


Tom Waits was an avid watcher of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour and The Twilight Zone.


Tom Waits later described himself as a "rebel against the rebels", for he eschewed the hippie subculture which was growing in popularity and was instead inspired by the 1950s Beat generation, having a love of Beat writers like Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and William S Burroughs.


Tom Waits worked at Napoleone's pizza restaurant in National City, California, and both there and at a local diner developed an interest in the lives of the patrons, writing down phrases and snippets of dialogue he overheard.


Tom Waits said he worked in the forestry service as a fireman for three years and served with the Coast Guard.


Tom Waits enrolled at Chula Vista's Southwestern Community College to study photography, for a time considering a career in the field.


Tom Waits continued pursuing his musical interests, taking piano lessons.


Tom Waits began frequenting folk music venues around San Diego, becoming drawn into the city's folk music scene.


Tom Waits began to sing at the Heritage; his set initially consisted largely of covers of Dylan and Red Sovine's "Big Joe and Phantom 309".


Aware that San Diego offered little opportunity for career progression, Tom Waits began traveling into Los Angeles to play at the Troubadour.


Tom Waits continued performing at the Troubadour and there met David Geffen, who gave Waits a recording contract with his Asylum Records.


Biographer Barney Hoskyns noted that Closing Time was "broadly in step with the singer-songwriter school of the early 1970s"; Tom Waits had wanted to create a piano-led jazz album although Yester had pushed its sound in a more folk-oriented direction.


Tom Waits began composing songs for his second album, and attended the Venice Poetry Workshop to try out this new material in front of an audience.


Tom Waits joined Zappa's tour in Ontario, but like Dalton found the audiences hostile; while on stage he was jeered at and pelted with fruit.


Tom Waits moved from Silver Lake to Echo Park, spending much of his time in downtown Los Angeles.


The album was far more widely reviewed than Closing Time had been, reflecting Tom Waits's growing notability on the American music scene.


Tom Waits himself was later dismissive of the album, describing it as "very ill-formed, but I was trying".


Back in Los Angeles, Cohen suggested Tom Waits produce a live album.


Tom Waits was living in what biographer Hoskyns later called a "pastiche of poverty"; Waits told the Los Angeles Times that "You almost have to create situations in order to write about them, so I live in a constant state of self-imposed poverty".


Tom Waits received growing press attention, being profiled in Newsweek, Time, Vogue, and The New Yorker; he had begun to accrue a cult following.


Tom Waits went on tour to promote the new album, backed by the Nocturnal Emissions.


Tom Waits began 1977 by touring Japan for the first time.


Tom Waits appeared with him at the Troubadour to sing the song; the next day he repaid the favor by performing at a gay rights benefit at the Hollywood Bowl that Midler was involved with.


Tom Waits became friends with the actor and director Sylvester Stallone and made his first cinematic appearance as a cameo part in Stallone's Paradise Alley ; Tom Waits appeared as a drunk piano player.


In July 1978, Tom Waits began the recording sessions for his album Blue Valentine.


Tom Waits's support act on the tour was Leon Redbone.


Tom Waits was dissatisfied with Elektra-Asylum, who he felt had lost interest in him as an artist in favor of their more commercially successful acts like the Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, Carly Simon, and Queen.


Tom Waits joined Jones for the first leg of her European tour, but then ended his relationship with her.


Tom Waits initially lived in the Chelsea Hotel before renting an apartment on West 26th Street.


Tom Waits was excited, but conflicted, by the prospect; Coppola wanted him to create music akin to his early work, a genre that he was trying to leave behind, and thus he characterized the project as an artistic "step backwards" for him.


Tom Waits nevertheless returned to Los Angeles to work on the soundtrack in a room set aside for the purpose in Coppola's Hollywood studios.


Tom Waits was nominated for the 1982 Academy Award for Original Music Score.


Tom Waits was grateful, both for the revenue that the cover brought him and because he felt appreciated by a songwriter whom he admired.


Tom Waits grew up Catholic, you know, blood and liquor and guilt.


Hoskyns noted that with Brennan, "Tom Waits had found the stabilizing, nurturing companion he'd always wanted", and that she brought him "a sense of emotional security he had never known" before.


Tom Waits makes a small cameo in it, playing a trumpet in a crowd scene.


Tom Waits had had his own misgivings about the album, thinking it over-produced.


Newly married and with his Elektra-Asylum contract completed, Tom Waits decided that it was time to artistically reinvent himself.


Tom Waits wanted to move away from using Howe as his producer, although the two parted on good terms.


Tom Waits began to use images rather than moods or characters as the basis for his songs.


Tom Waits wrote the songs which would be included on the album Swordfishtrombones during a two-week trip to Ireland.


Tom Waits recorded it at Sunset Sound studios and produced the album himself; Brennan often attended the sessions and gave him advice.


Tom Waits wanted to leave the label; in his view, "They liked dropping my name in terms of me being a 'prestige' artist, but when it came down to it they didn't invest a whole lot in me in terms of faith".


Tom Waits did not tour to promote the album, partly because Brennan was pregnant.


In 1983, Tom Waits appeared in three more Coppola films: in Rumble Fish he played Benny, a philosopher running a billboard store, in The Outsiders he was Buck Merrill, a one-line role, and in The Cotton Club he again made a cameo appearance, this time as the eponymous club's maitre'd.


Tom Waits was determined to keep his family life separate from his public image and to spend as much time as possible with his daughter.


Tom Waits found New York City life frustrating, although it allowed him to meet many new musicians and artists.


Tom Waits befriended John Lurie of The Lounge Lizards, and the duo began sharing a music studio in the Westbeth artist-community building in Greenwich Village.


Tom Waits began networking in the city's arts scene, and, at a party Jean-Michel Basquiat held for Lurie, he met the filmmaker Jim Jarmusch.


Tom Waits recorded his eighth studio album, Rain Dogs, at the RCA Studios in mid 1985.


Tom Waits called the album "kind of an interaction between Appalachia and Nigeria".


Tom Waits changed the setlist for each performance; most of the songs chosen were from his two Island albums.


The film opened and closed with Tom Waits songs taken from Rain Dogs.


Tom Waits had devised the idea of a musical play, Franks Wild Years, which would be loosely based on the eponymous song from Swordfishtrombones.


Tom Waits initially considered a run in New York City, but decided against it.


Tom Waits had continued interacting and working with other artists he admired.


Tom Waits was a great fan of The Pogues and went on a Chicago pub crawl with them in 1986.


In September 1987, he joined singers like Springsteen, Costello, and k d lang by appearing in a "Black and White Night" at Los Angeles's Ambassador Hotel to celebrate the life of singer-songwriter Roy Orbison, of whom Waits was a fan.


At rehearsals, Tom Waits looked like any moment he might break at the waist or his head fall off his shoulders on to the floor.


Tom Waits then starred in Hector Babenco's Ironweed, as Rudy the Kraut, a more substantial role.


In November 1988, he brought a lawsuit against Frito-Lay for using an actor imitating his voice to advertise Doritos; it came to court in April 1990, and Tom Waits won the case in 1992.


Tom Waits received a $2.6 million settlement, a sum larger than his earnings from all of his previous albums combined.


In 1989, Tom Waits began planning a collaboration with Robert Wilson, a theatre director he had known throughout the 1980s.


Tom Waits travelled to Hamburg in May 1989 to work on the project, and was later joined there by Burroughs.


In June 1989, Tom Waits travelled to London to appear in Ann Guedes's film, Bearskin: An Urban Fairytale.


Tom Waits proceeded to Ireland, where he was joined by Brennan and spent time with her family.


Tom Waits made a brief appearance as a plainclothes cop in The Two Jakes and then a disabled war veteran in Terry Gilliam's The Fisher King.


Tom Waits had a cameo in Steve Rash' Queens Logic and then played a pilot-for-hire in Hector Babenco's At Play in the Fields of the Lord.


Tom Waits appeared as Renfield in Coppola's 1992 film Bram Stoker's Dracula.


Tom Waits starred as Earl Piggot, an alcoholic limousine driver, in Robert Altman's Short Cuts.


Tom Waits was angered at this, describing many of his early demos as "baby pictures" that he would not want released.


In 1992, Tom Waits gave up drinking alcohol and joined Alcoholics Anonymous.


Tom Waits described wanting to explore "more machinery sounds" with the album.


Tom Waits's most affecting and powerful recording, even if it isn't his most accessible.


Tom Waits next appeared in Jarmusch's film Coffee and Cigarettes, where he was filmed having a conversation with the rock singer Iggy Pop.


Tom Waits decided that he wanted to record an album of the songs written for The Black Rider play, doing so at Los Angeles's Sunset Sound Factory.


Tom Waits characterized the songs he wrote for the play as "adult songs for children, or children's songs for adults".


Tom Waits thought the play itself was about "repression, mental illness and obsessive, compulsive disorders".


Tom Waits decided to reduce his workload so as to spend more time with his children; this isolation spawned rumours that he was seriously ill or had separated from his wife.


The English musician Gavin Bryars visited him in California and Tom Waits added vocals for a re-release of Bryars's Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet, which was then nominated for the 1993 Mercury Music Award.


Tom Waits contributed two songs to the soundtrack album of the film Dead Man Walking, released that year, while he then contributed another song to the 1997 film The End of Violence.


That year, Tom Waits produced and funded Weiss's album, Extremely Cool, as a favor to his old friend.


Tom Waits signed to a smaller record label, Anti-, recently launched as an offshoot of the punk-label Epitaph Records.


Tom Waits had been recording the tracks at Prairie Sun since June 1998.


The tracks often dealt with themes involving rural life in the United States and were influenced by the early blues recordings made by Alan Lomax; Tom Waits coined the term "surrural" to describe the album's contents.


Also in March 1999, Tom Waits gave his first live show in three years at Paramount Theater, Austin, Texas as part of the South by Southwest festival.


Tom Waits subsequently appeared in an episode of VH1's Storytellers television show, where he performed several tracks.


In 2000, Tom Waits produced Wicked Grin, the 2001 album of his friend John Hammond; the album contained several covers of Tom Waits songs.


Also in 2000, Tom Waits began writing songs for Wilson's production of the Georg Buchner play, Woyzeck, scheduled to start at the Betty Nansen Theater in Copenhagen in November 2000.


Tom Waits decided to then record the songs he had written for both Alice and Woyzeck, placing them on separate albums.


In May 2001, Tom Waits accepted a Founders Award at the 18th annual American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers Pop Music Awards in a ceremony at Los Angeles's Beverly Hilton Hotel.


In September 2003, Tom Waits performed at the Healing the Divide fundraiser in New York City, and contributed a track to that year's release of the album, Tribute to the Ramones.


Tom Waits had recorded it in an abandoned schoolhouse in Locke.


That year, he appeared in Benigni's film The Tiger and the Snow, for which Tom Waits had travelled to Italy.


Tom Waits followed this with a performance as an angel posing as a tramp in the 2007 film Wristcutters: A Love Story.


Tom Waits described its contents as "songs that fell behind the stove while making dinner".


Tom Waits continued acting, appearing as Mr Nick in Terry Gilliam's 2009 film, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.


Tom Waits found himself in a situation similar to his earlier one with Frito Lay in 2000 when Audi approached him, asking to use "Innocent When You Dream" for a commercial broadcast in Spain.


Tom Waits declined, but the commercial ultimately featured music very similar to that song.


Tom Waits undertook legal action, and a Spanish court recognized that there had been a violation of Tom Waits's moral rights in addition to the infringement of copyright.


Tom Waits later joked that they got the name of the song wrong, thinking it was called "Innocent When You Scheme".


In 2005, Tom Waits sued Adam Opel AG, claiming that, after having failed to sign him to sing in their Scandinavian commercials, they had hired a sound-alike singer.


In 2007, the suit was settled, and Tom Waits gave his proceeds to charity.


In 2010, Tom Waits was reported to be working on a new stage musical with director and long-time collaborator Robert Wilson and playwright Martin McDonagh.


In early 2011, Tom Waits completed a set of 23 poems titled Seeds on Hard Ground, which were inspired by Michael O'Brien's portraits of the homeless in his book, Hard Ground, which included the poems alongside the portraits.


In March 2011, Tom Waits was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by Neil Young.


In 2012, Tom Waits had a supporting role in the crime comedy film, Seven Psychopaths, written and directed by Martin McDonagh, in which he played a retired serial killer.


On October 27,2013, Tom Waits performed at the 27th annual Bridge School Benefit concert in Mountain View California.


Tom Waits was accompanied by Larry Taylor on upright bass and Gabriel Donohue on piano accordion, with the horn section of the CBS Orchestra.


In 2016, Tom Waits embarked upon litigation against French artist Bartabas, who had used several of Tom Waits's songs as a backdrop to a theatrical performance.


Claims and counterclaims were made, with Bartabas claiming to have sought and been granted permission to use the material but with Tom Waits claiming that his identity had been stolen.


In 2018, Tom Waits had a feature role in The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, a western anthology film by the Coen Brothers, which was released on Netflix.


Also in 2018, Tom Waits provided the recorded narration for performances of Martin McDonagh's play A Very Very Very Dark Matter, which was performed at the Bridge Theatre, London.


In 2021, Tom Waits had a supporting role in Licorice Pizza, a coming-of-age film by Paul Thomas Anderson.


Tom Waits has made use of blues, jazz, vaudeville and experimental.


Tom Waits described his voice as being "the sand in the sandwich".


Tom Waits has modelled some of his early vocal mannerisms after Richard Buckley.


Tom Waits was usually reticent to discuss the specifics of his song-writing with journalists.


Tom Waits's work was influenced by his voracious reading and by conversations that he overheard in diners.


Tom Waits regarded James Brown as one of his musical heroes, and was a great fan of the Rolling Stones.


Tom Waits's voice was described by critic Daniel Durchholz as sounding as though "it was soaked in a vat of bourbon, left hanging in the smokehouse for a few months, and then taken outside and run over with a car".


When Barney Hoskyns was researching his unauthorized 2009 biography, Lowside of the Road: A Life of Tom Waits, Waits and his wife asked people not to talk to him.


Tom Waits has been determined to keep a distance between his public persona and his personal life.


In Hoskyns's view, Tom Waits's self-image is in part "a self-protective device, a screen to deflect attention".


Tom Waits added that Waits has adopted a "self-appointed role as the bard of the streets".


Hoskyns suggested that Tom Waits has had an "on-off affair with alcohol, never quite able to shake it off".


Tom Waits dislikes touring, but Hoskyns added that Waits has "a strong work ethic".


Humphries noted that at the time of his emergence to public fame, Tom Waits represented "a unique voice on the late Seventies pop radar".


Tom Waits thought that Waits was, along with the painter Edward Hopper, "one of the two great depicters of American isolation".


Hoskyns noted that by the end of the twentieth century, "Tom Waits was an iconic alternative figure, not just to the fans who'd grown up with him but to subsequent generations of music geeks", coming to be "universally acknowledged as an elder statesman of 'alternative' rock".


Various cabaret shows have been held devoted to Tom Waits's songs, including Robert Berdahl's Warm Beer, Cold Women and Stewart D'Arrietta's Belly of a Drunken Piano.


In Britain, prominent figures who have described themselves as Tom Waits fans include the historian Simon Schama, the writer Raymond Briggs, the presenter Graham Norton, and the actor Colin Firth.


Bob Dylan, who was a major influence on the young Tom Waits, stated that Tom Waits was one of his "secret heroes".


In 1995, Holly Cole released an album of Tom Waits's covers, Temptation, while in 2008 Scarlett Johansson did the same with her debut album, Anywhere I Lay My Head.


Tom Waits's tracks have been selected for use in film.