Tom Jones’ Top 25 duets: Janis Joplin, Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, CSNY and more

tom jones duets

Tom Jones and Janis Joplin, singing together in 1969.

With Tom Jones — who is 82 and still singing as well as he ever has — coming to Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa in Atlantic City about a month from now (on Sept. 9), it seems like a good time to share something I’ve recently discovered: YouTube includes a treasure trove of great Jones duets.

Many come from “This Is Tom Jones,” his TV variety show that ran from 1969 to 1971 and saw him singing with everyone from Jerry Lee Lewis to Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. But there are other great Jones duets on YouTube, too, including some great impromptu singing with Jennifer Hudson from when they were both coaches on “The Voice U.K.” from 2017 to 2019 (Jones remains a coach there; Hudson does not).

So here are my favorite 25 Jones YouTube duets, in approximate order of preference.

1. Have two human beings ever seemed to have a better time singing together than Jones and Wilson Pickett did duetting on “Barefootin,” “In the Midnight Hour” and “Hey Jude” on “This Is Tom Jones” in 1969?

2. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young … and Jones! Here they are performing “Long Time Gone” on “This Is Tom Jones” in 1969.

3. “It’s Not Unusual” and “See Saw” with Aretha Franklin, on “This Is Tom Jones” in 1970.

4. Can Jones hold his own with Janis Joplin? Yes he can. Here they are performing “Raise Your Hand” together on “This Is Tom Jones,” in 1969.

5. Here’s a relatively recent one: “St. James Infirmary Blues,” with Rhiannon Giddens, on the 2015 “Jools’ Annual Hootenanny” edition of the British TV show, “Later … With Jools Holland.”

6. Dueting with Jerry Lee Lewis on “This Is Tom Jones” in 1969, Jones wisely doesn’t try to upstage his partner — he lets Lewis do all the theatrics — but still sings with resonant force. The medley includes “Great Balls of Fire,” “Down the Line” and “Long Tall Sally.”

7. In 2002, Jones and Van Morrison, with Jeff Beck on guitar, recorded Sam Cooke’s “Bring It on Home to Me” and the blues standard “Trouble in Mind” for the Martin Scorsese-overseen TV documentary series, “The Blues.”

8. Jones is good and Jennifer Hudson is great on the Aretha Franklin signature song “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You),” on “The Voice U.K.” in 2018.

9. Sammy Davis Jr. gave a knockout performance (with Jones, frankly, not adding all that much) on “What the World Needs Now Is Love” on “This Is Tom Jones, in 1969.

10. Smokey Robinson’s Miracles recorded “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” in 1966 and released it in 1968, though other artists (Marvin Gaye, Gladys Knight & the Pips) had hits with it, and the Miracles version remained obscure. Still, Jones had the good idea to perform it with them when they appeared on “This Is Tom Jones” in 1970.

11. Jones and Dusty Springfield have chemistry to spare on this cover of “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me,” from “This Is Tom Jones” in 1970. Springfield had sung backing vocals on Madeline Bell’s 1968 hit version; the song had also made the charts in versions by Dee Dee Warwick (1966) and the team of The Supremes and The Temptations (1968).

12. More of Jones with Dusty Springfield, from a few years earlier.

13. It’s amazing, isn’t it, how many legendary performers were on “This Is Tom Jones.” Here is Jones with Little Richard in 1969, on a medley of “Jenny, Jenny,” “Rip It Up,” “Send Me Some Lovin’ ” and “Good Golly, Miss Molly.

14. A medley of “A Place in the Sun,” “Uptight,” “It’s Not Unusual” and “Nothing’s Too Good for My Baby” with Stevie Wonder.

15. There are two duets on this clip from a 1976 “Best of the Midnight Special” special. Go to the 10-minute mark to hear Jones sing — and goof around with — Sly Stone, appearing on the TV series with the Family Stone. After that, Jones and Lynn Anderson sing the Elton John-Kiki Dee hit, “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart,” together.

16. This collaboration with The Cardigans on Talking Heads’ “Burning Down the House” was a hit throughout Europe in 1999.

17. The first three songs in this medley with Ray Charles, from “This Is Tom Jones” in 1970 — “That Thing Called Love,” “Understanding” and “Crying Time” — are okay, but the duet really takes off atttt the five-minute mark, when they break into “The Bright Lights and You Girl” (which Charles had recorded on his 1968 album, A Portrait of Ray).

18. Joe Cocker appeared on “This Is Tom Jones” on Feb. 19, 1970, and duetted with Jones on “Delta Lady.” A little more than a month later, he performed the shows that were released as the now-classic Mad Dogs and Englishmen live double album.

19. The British trio Ashton, Gardner & Dyke had a hit in 1971 with a strange song titled “Resurrection Shuffle.” Tom Jones and Cher, uh, resurrected it on TV’s “The Sonny and Cher Show” in 1976.

20. Can the Wales-born Jones sing American country music? Of course he can. Here he is with Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash, singing “I Walk the Line” on “This Is Tom Jones,” in 1969.

21. Speaking of country … here is a bearded Jones performing “Green, Green Grass of Home” — which he had a hit with, all the way back in 1966 — with Dolly Parton on her variety show “Dolly,” in 1987.

22. And now one more country segment: “Opportunity to Cry” and “Raise a Ruckus,” performed with Alison Krauss on the PBS “Soundstage” series in 2017 (and later available on AXS TV).

23. In 1988, Jones had a surprise hit with a cover of Prince’s “Kiss,” recorded with the band The Art of Noise. Here he is in 2014, performing it with Ed Sheeran at the AFL (Australian Football League) Grand Final in Melbourne.

24. Go to the 1:15 mark of this video for duets with Robbie Williams on “You Can Leave Your Hat On” and (a frenetic) “Land of 1000 Dances.”

25. One last one, which poses a bit of a mystery: When The Moody Blues performed on “This Is Tom Jones” in 1969, why in the world did he ask them to perform the Eddie Reeves-written rockabilly song “It’s a Hang Up Baby” with him? (Incidentally, I realize this is not really a duet; The Moody Blues are really just backing him. But it was too interesting not to include.)


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Sam January 27, 2023 - 5:21 pm

Look for Tom Jones and John Farnham sing Yiddisa Mamma on an Australian tv show Hey Hey it’s Saturday, amazing


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