Tom Jones and the chicken of Fochriw

Tommy Scott and the Senators

Tom Jones and his band.
Tom Jones and his band.

The Background

The mysterious case of Tom Jones and the missing chicken of Fochriw happened in 1963 but a little background is necessary;

Around 1960, Tom Jones was still Tommy Woodward, the lad from Trefforest. Thomas John Woodward was born in that little town at the foot of the Rhondda valley in Wales, a valley known for coal mines in a country known for singers.

Tommy was 20 years old, he’d been married to Melinda, or Linda as everyone calls her, for about 3 years and they had a little boy, Mark, Tommy worked wherever he could find a job to support his young family.

Back in those days the British Broadcasting Corporation, the BBC or “Auntie Beeb” as it was called, considered itself the guardian of the nation’s morals, Rock and Roll was not permitted. Kids would tune in to Radio Luxembourg to hear the music the British airwaves deemed “Improper” A music revolution was about to take place and it was sparked by local bands playing in clubs and pubs with a new and exciting kind of music. One such band, formed in that South Wales valley, was the “Senators” They were playing that new Rock and Roll and had developed quite a following. One night their lead singer, Tommy Redman, failed to show up so the leader of the band, Vernon Hopkins, offered Tommy a crate of beer if he’d fill in and sing at a gig in the local YMCA. It was supposed to be a “One off” but Tommy got bit by the performing bug. Woodward didn’t work so they became “Tommy Scott and the Senators” and soon they developed a respectable following.

One night in 1963 about a year before Tommy Scott and the Senators became “Tom Jones and the Squires” and their big hit “It’s not unusual” they were playing at the Fochriw social club.

Aerial photo of Fochriw 2006 from Google Earth.
Aerial photo of Fochriw 2006 from Google Earth.

Fochriw

A word about Fochriw would be appropriate; a small coal mining village with a couple of shops and a school, it was mentioned in a 12th century record as Brohru Carn. It is an amalgamation of two hamlets; Ysgwyddgwyn and Brithdir. A small river, Bargoed fach, flows between them. The name was originally transcribed as “Fforch y Rhiw” meaning “A fork in the road” a reference to the old tracks that would lead to the two hamlets. It still is a small town that, since the demise of coal, has returned from its industrialized surroundings to the rural atmosphere of its past. The residents are the first to admit that not much happens in Fochriw that is why they still remember and talk about that night in 1963.

A hot night in the old town

Tommy Scott and the Senators were booked to play at the social club. About 200 people were packed in there that night. Tom was playing music a lot of them hadn’t heard before and things were going well. A raffle was being held to raise money for the club and one of the villagers had donated a chicken. During the course of the night a fight broke out. That’s not unusual in a valley’s club and there’s many a night when the revelers find themselves face down on the green green grass of home. What made this night memorable was that after the fight was ended, the soon to be famous sex bomb was gone and so was the funky chicken.

There are people in the village today who are convinced that Tom Jones took the chicken. Nothing has ever been proven and dead birds tell no tales. Tom went on to great things and has played in venues all over the world but he has not been to Fochriw since 1963

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Comments 32 comments

billyaustindillon profile image

billyaustindillon 6 years ago

I had no idea Tom Jones changed his name from Tommy Woodward, It's not unusual is still fresh and Tom is still touring all these years later! Enjoyed the hub thanks.


iantoPF profile image

iantoPF 6 years ago from Sunny California Author

Hi Billy; thanks for being the first one to comment. When Gordon Mills took over as Tom's manager there was a hit movie at the time called "Tom Jones" starring Albert Finney. Gordon thought it a good idea to rename him Tom Jones to capitalize on the films success. The name has stuck but only for him. His wife is still Melinda (Linda) Woodward, his manager is his son, mentioned in the Hub, Mark Woodward and his granddaughter Donna Woodward is involved in his promotion these days.


scarytaff profile image

scarytaff 6 years ago from South Wales

Great hub Ianto. Jones the voice is still huge in these parts, but I'll bet not many know about the chicken. Cheers, Taff.


billyaustindillon profile image

billyaustindillon 6 years ago

Thanks for the update lanto - and I always thought Jones was a great Welsh name!


Pandoras Box 6 years ago

Great story!


iantoPF profile image

iantoPF 6 years ago from Sunny California Author

Thank you PB; always good to hear from you.


Jai Warren profile image

Jai Warren 6 years ago from Dallas, Deep Ellum, Texas

I had no idea that Tom Jones was in a band before he went solo, and that's is my generation. Very good Hub! Do you think he took the chicken? :)


iantoPF profile image

iantoPF 6 years ago from Sunny California Author

Hello Jai; Tommy's first hits, including "It's not unusual" were made with his band. They started as the Senators then became the Playboys then toured with Tom as the Squires. later Tom went solo and that's probably how he is best known.

As for the chicken, ahh! if you ever get the chance visit the village, chickens have a way of coming home to roost. :)


itakins profile image

itakins 6 years ago from Irl

Great story,I have to admit I knew none of this background on Tom Jones.....I wonder did he eat the chicken!


iantoPF profile image

iantoPF 6 years ago from Sunny California Author

Hi there itakins; lovely to hear from you. The story is true the urban legend around it is that Tom is banned from the village, that isn't true but the question of the chicken? all I will say is that last year, 46 years after the fact, Tommy had acid reflux and had to cut short his act in Singapore. Coincidence? hmmm.


itakins profile image

itakins 6 years ago from Irl

Mmmm!-Maybe he just chickened out:)


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California

Interesting little story. A great mystery too! (I just came from another of your hubs and listening to renaissance type music. The immediate leap to Tom Jones is an intersting one.)


iantoPF profile image

iantoPF 6 years ago from Sunny California Author

Hello Shadesbreath; Thank you for your interest in my Hubs. I just couldn't resist putting this particular song on this article. It fits so well.


ralwus 6 years ago

Funny and informative hub, thanks for sharing. I reckon maybe he likes chicken fried. LOL


iantoPF profile image

iantoPF 6 years ago from Sunny California Author

LOL Rawlus you may have a point. He's never mentioned it but maybe he should do commercials for KFC


fastfreta profile image

fastfreta 6 years ago from Southern California

What a really interesting hub. Thanks for the background on Tom Jones. Of course there's a lot more that I'd like to know about him, but you supplied quite a lot. Very good hub. I'm coming back for more.


iantoPF profile image

iantoPF 6 years ago from Sunny California Author

Hello fastfreta; thank you fir your comments. OK so a little more inside knowledge;

He lives in Los Angeles. he used to live in Dean Martin's mansion in Bel Air, his parents moved in with him and his son Mark, with his wife and daughter were all together. Then his parents passed away and Mark got his own place so Tom and Linda found the mansion too big for them. They bought a house on Mullholland drive and that's where they live now.

How's that for a little extra. :)


B.T. Evilpants profile image

B.T. Evilpants 6 years ago from Hell, MI

LOL! I never heard of Fochriw before this week, and now I've read two separate stories about this fabled chicken in the same day! This is an excellent account!

The other one I came across stated that Tom Jones was recently exonerated of the theft and was welcome to return to Fochriw. I suspect it may be a ruse, though. They're probably just dangling that carrot to get him there, so they can throw him in irons.


iantoPF profile image

iantoPF 6 years ago from Sunny California Author

I'm inclined to agree with you. Those valley people have long memories. Don't fall for it Tommy.

thanks for visiting and providing that extra information. I didn't know about that. LOL


dai 6 years ago

I understand a local admitted to the fabled chicken goes by the initials TS and not out Tom


dai 6 years ago

tommy did not do it's a savage world (riddle)


iantoPF profile image

iantoPF 6 years ago from Sunny California Author

Nice link Dai :)Diolch yn fawr.


Phil Morgan 6 years ago

Hi,

I wonder if The Senators could get back together for a reunion even though we have lost Micky Gee our greatest ever guitarist in Wales? They must have some great stories to tell and photos they could share!

Phil


iantoPF profile image

iantoPF 6 years ago from Sunny California Author

Hi Phil: thanks for stopping by. Nice idea but not likely.

Liked your link by the way ;)


callum 6 years ago

lol i never kn ew it was in forcriw i live like 2 miles away from that village i heard a lot about the chicken thing but never knew it was in forcriw :L


iantoPF profile image

iantoPF 6 years ago from Sunny California Author

Hey Callum; thanks for reading and commenting. me and the missus are going to see Tommy at the MGM in las Vegas on the 18th of August. maybe I'll smuggle a chicken in. :)


larraine  6 years ago

my family lived in Fochriw i remember my mother telling the tale a long time ago. good to see it come to light after all these years. Im sure they'd love to see Tom in the valleys again!and make him very welcome.


larraine  6 years ago

My mother always said it was a Turkey not a chicken


iantoPF profile image

iantoPF 6 years ago from Sunny California Author

Hi larraine: thank you for reading and commenting. I'm sure he would be welcome back in the village. The social club is still standing so perhaps he could do a repeat performance. I have it on good authority that it was a chicken, from the brother of the man that donated it.

Lovely to meet you, :)


Levertis Steele profile image

Levertis Steele 4 years ago from Southern Clime

Interesting and new (to me) background on Tom Jones. Who wants to be remembered for an accusation of taking a chicken?!

Great article!


iantoPF profile image

iantoPF 4 years ago from Sunny California Author

Hello Levertis;

Thank you for your comment. I'm glad you enjoyed the Hub.

Welcome to HubPages, I hope your stay will be long and profitable.


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 2 years ago from The English Midlands

Hi :)

Just found this.

My Mum is from that neck of the woods and some of the Woodward girls were friends of her family. One married a relative. But I think she only met Tom once, when he was a little boy.

Lots of famous faces come from South Wales and the Valleys are a small world, so Mum or family members know / knew quite a few of them.

Interesting and amusing hub :)

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