Tuesday, January 03, 2006

So does this make him a knight or something?

It's not unusual to call to Tom Jones "Sir"--at least from now on. The 65-year-old Welsh singer, who's used to having women throw panties at him onstage, received a compliment of a different sort from Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, who bestowed knighthood upon him Saturday in her annual end-of-year honor list. Jones, whose string of lounge-worthy hits in the 1960s and '70s included "It's Not Unusual," "What's New Pussycat," "She's a Lady," "Never Fall in Love Again," "Green, Green Grass Of Home," "Sex Bomb" and the title track for the James Bond movie Thunderball, joins such music icons as Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, Elton John among the pantheon of Britain's most famous knights this side of Lancelot. Born Thomas Jones Woodward, the singer also scored a hit in America with his 1989 cover of Prince's "Kiss." His most recent release, Reloaded, featuring remixes and new takes on his classic cuts with assists from Wyclef Jean, the Sterophonics, Art of Noise, the Cardigans, Portishead and Mousse T, dropped in 2003. During his 40-year career, his tunes have popped up in many film and television shows. Aside from Thunderball, Jones sang the title song for the 1965 film What's New, Pussycat? and the track "Come to Me" featured in 1976's The Pink Panther Strikes Again. Jones' staples have turned up on such TV shows as The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Sex and the City. He has also dabbled in acting. From 1969 to 1971, the baritone-voiced crooner headlined his very own ABC variety show, This Is Tom Jones. He has poked fun at himself on screen several times, most notably in Tim Burton's 1995 sci-fi comedy Mars Attacks! and as the voice of Theme Song Guy in Disney's 2000 animated hit, The Emperor's New Groove. Aside from Sir Tom, another famous name making the Queen's list was Harry Potter's big buddy Hagrid, aka Scottish comedian and actor Robbie Coltrane, who was made a member of the Order of the British Empire, a couple notches below knighthood on the honor roll. Also earning OBEs were Oscar-nominated Vera Drake actress Imelda Staunton and celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, best known to Americans as Hell's Kitchen overlord. John Dankworth, a 78-year-old jazz musician and bandleader who toured with Charlie Parker and Duke Ellington and wrote the theme song for the TV series The Avengers, was knighted, as was London-born playwright Arnold Wesker (Roots, Check Soup and Barley). British TV personality and comedian Bruce Forsyth was named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE), as was iPod and iMac designer Jonathan Ive, and singers Eddi Reader and the Beverley Sisters were made Members of the Order of the British Empire (MBE). Twice a year, on New Year's Eve and on Queen Elizabeth's birthday, the British government on behalf of the monarch announces recipients of a wide range of honors--from knight- and damehoods to MBEs--given to those who have shown exceptional achievement or service to the nation.


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