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Tom Jones and the chicken of Fochriw
Tommy Scott and the Senators
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.
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