Sir Tom Jones on Welsh independence, the pandemic and performing live again

Welsh music legend Sir Tom Jones has told ITV News he does not believe Wales should leave the United Kingdom and become independent.

The 80-year-old singer, who is famously proud of his roots, told arts editor Nina Nannar: "I am not for that myself. I think, 'united we stand, divided we fall'. The British Isles, I feel, are small enough as it is, without us splitting up.

"I think the whole world should be together. Keep languages going, yes - keep the culture going - but be a part of something bigger.

"I don't really believe in being completely independent; breaking away. No, I don't see that."

  • Sir Tom Jones shares his thoughts with ITV News on Welsh independence

Sir Tom - born Thomas John Woodward in Pontypridd, Rhondda Cynon Taf, south Wales - said it "always feels great" coming back home.

He told ITV News: "You go across the bridge and you see 'Welcome to Wales' and the dragon is there.

"You never leave Wales, you see. I carry Wales [in my heart] with me. That's what we do. 'Hiraeth' means longing - a longing for Wales. So I'm always thrilled to bits to go back."

Sir Tom, who has enjoyed a music career spanning six decades, has just released a new album called 'Surrounded by Time'.

It features a song called 'I'm Growing Old' - but Sir Tom, who turns 81 in June, told ITV News he doesn't feel old yet.

He said: "It says 'I'm growing old'. It doesn't say 'I am old' - there's a difference there!

"I've kept that song since my thirties - it was given to me then. But I thought, I want to be old enough to know what these words really mean. And now I think I am old enough!"

Sir Tom, pictured here in his twenties, has enjoyed a music career spanning six decades. Credit: PA Images

After initially being unsure what to call the album, the title was inspired by the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdowns.

Sir Tom recalled: "In 2019, when I finished one tour, I was getting ready for 2020. I thought, I'm going to be turning 80, I feel great, my voice is great, and I've got a great band. What could stop us now?

"No audience - that's going to stop you! A pandemic. So, it's all about time. How much time is it going to take before I can get back on the road again?

"[The pandemic] has really has stopped me doing what I love to do. Before we had the vaccine, I thought, how long is this going to take? I can't afford five years now - I'm not 25 now, I'm 80 years old!

"Thank God we've got the vaccine. I've already had my two shots."

Sir Tom with his late wife Linda in the 1970s. Credit: PA Images

Sir Tom is no stranger to quarantine himself, having been bedridden with tuberculosis as a child.

"I was quarantined for two years in my house in Wales - I was only 12," he said.

"So I'm looking at kids today and thinking, I know what it feels like not to be able to go out with your friends; go to school; play.

"In Wales, we had wonderful hills to play up. I couldn't go up there. I had to stay in my house. So I feel for young kids, especially now."

Sir Tom said people have missed live entertainment during lockdowns. Credit: PA Images

Sir Tom cautiously welcomed news that the 2021 Brit Awards ceremony is to go ahead with an audience of 4,000 as part of the government’s live events pilot scheme.

He said people have missed live entertainment during the pandemic and "want to get out and see shows" - but also warned against "jumping the gun".

"If something happens, there's a third spike and we have to go into lockdown again... that's all I'm concerned about at the moment, that we're not jumping the gun," he said.

Sir Tom said he "lives and breathes" being on stage and can't wait to return to a live audience. Credit: PA Images

But Sir Tom said being back on stage in front of thousands of fans would be "something special".

"For me, all roads lead to the stage," he said.

"That's where I live and breathe it. It's the most natural thing that I do. And it's always been like that, ever since I was a kid.

"I was doing live shows when I was a kid, all the way through my teenage years in the pubs and clubs in the south Wales valleys, before I came to London. So live music has always been a huge part of my life.

"There's nothing like live. Until I get on the stage with this new album - that's when I'll find out if people really like it or not. You need an audience for that.

"We've got great plans [for this year]. I hope we can see them through."

Read more: