Author

Tom Waits cover

photo credits: Wikimedia Commons

Tom Waits

American singer-songwriter and actor

1949   -  

genre: rock music
country of citizenship: United States of America
language of expression: English
occupation: singer-songwriter, singer, actor, composer, pianist, writer, guitarist, jazz guitarist
www.tomwaits.com


Thomas Alan Waits (born December 7, 1949) is an American singer, songwriter, musician, composer, and actor. His lyrics often focus on the underbelly of society and are delivered in his trademark deep, gravelly voice. He worked primarily in jazz during the 1970s, but his music since the 1980s has reflected greater influence from blues, rock, vaudeville, and experimental genres. Born in a "Red and White" cab in Valparaiso, Indiana (David Letterman Show Interview, Feb. 21, 1983) and raised in a middle-class family in Pomona, California, Waits was inspired by the work of Bob Dylan and the Beat Generation. He began singing on the San Diego folk music circuit as a teenager, relocating to Los Angeles in 1972, where he worked as a songwriter before signing a recording contract with Asylum Records. His first albums were the jazz-oriented Closing Time (1973) and The Heart of Saturday Night (1974), which reflected his lyrical interest in nightlife, poverty, and criminality. He repeatedly toured the United States, Europe, and Japan, and attracted greater critical recognition and commercial success with Small Change (1976), Blue Valentine (1978), and Heartattack and Vine (1980). He produced the soundtrack for Francis Ford Coppola's film One from the Heart (1981), and subsequently made cameo appearances in several Coppola films. In 1980, Waits married Kathleen Brennan, split from his manager and record label, and moved to New York City. With Brennan's encouragement and frequent collaboration, he pursued a more experimental and eclectic musical aesthetic influenced by the work of Harry Partch and Captain Beefheart. This was reflected in a series of albums released by Island Records, including Swordfishtrombones (1983), Rain Dogs (1985), and Franks Wild Years (1987). He continued appearing in films, notably starring in Jim Jarmusch's Down by Law (1986), and also made theatrical appearances. With theatre director Robert Wilson, he produced the musicals The Black Rider and Alice, first performed in Hamburg. Having returned to California in the 1990s, his albums Bone Machine (1992), The Black Rider (1993), and Mule Variations (1999) earned him increasing critical acclaim and multiple Grammy Awards. In the late 1990s, he switched to the record label ANTI-, which released Blood Money (2002), Alice (2002), Real Gone (2004), and Bad as Me (2011). Despite a lack of mainstream success, Waits has influenced many musicians and gained an international cult following. In 2011, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2015, he was ranked at No. 55 on Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time". Several biographies have also been written about him.
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