Tom Waits: Interesting facts about the musician

"Here's how I see it: if it's your birthday and I came in very early and started eating your cake, and maybe I opened all your presents and started playing with your toys, would you go along with that?"

A collection of little-known facts about musician and actor Thomas Waits!

Tom Waits is an American singer and songwriter who has also built a brilliant career in film! Waits was most influenced by such genres as blues and folk. His later work focused on experimental rock with elements of industrial, dark cabaret and avant-garde jazz. Waits captivated listeners with his distinctive performance style - something between singing and recitative. And his instantly recognizable husky voice was a major talking point for most music critics! "It's like he's soaked in a barrel of bourbon!" - they wrote of Waits!

Tom Waits' stories have won fans around the world through his music: Waits' songs, with their ragged characters, have been reflected in an impressive array of movies and TV shows... The musician himself is widely known today as a talented film actor... This California singer has had an incredibly inventive career: as a Grammy winner for Bone Machine and Mule Variations, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011! Let's take a look at some of the more obscure facts about this undeniably important man in the music world...

Before music, he was a fireman.

Young Tom Waits
Young Tom Waits

Before becoming a musician, Waits worked for a year for the fire department on the California-Mexico border. The pay was low, and Waits said he was often frustrated by the border restrictions that got in the way of their work... In a 2017 interview with Interview Magazine, he said:

"This kind of work has not been good for me. I have high blood pressure. I get upset easily. I don't think it was the right career alternative for me..."

He invented an instrument called the "Dumpstalele

Taking a metal trash can and stringing piano strings onto it, Waits once created a new instrument he called the Strata Dumpster, or Dumpstalele. He described the instrument's sound as "plume-like and heavy, like a gloomy day with a definite purpose.

He got his first movie role as an intoxicated pianist

Tom Waits and Sylvester Stallone
Tom Waits and Sylvester Stallone

Thanks to his longtime friendship with Sylvester Stallone, Waits got his first role in the 1978 film Paradise Alley. In this sports drama, Wates briefly appears as an intoxicated pianist named Mumbles. By the way: in this movie he plays with many professional wrestlers, including Terry Funk, Don Kernodle and Uliuli Fifit.

He starred in the films of Francis Ford Coppola

Tom Waits in Dracula
Tom Waits in Dracula

His collaboration with Francis Ford began with the film From the Heart, for which Wates created the soundtrack. Later he appeared in the films "Dracula", "Outcasts", "Cotton Club" and others.

He collects vintage megaphones

Tom Waits...
Tom Waits...

At the suggestion of his wife Kathleen Waits, he began amplifying his voice in his songs with... old megaphones! He ended up becoming an avid collector of such goodies from the '80s, even buying one special model with a 24-inch bell from the Naval Bureau of Ships! In the preface to his book on experimental instruments, Waits wrote:

"I'm also interested in researching megaphones designed for children that can change their voice into a monster, an astronaut and a robot..."

The man on the cover of the Rain Dogs album is not really him

Rain Dogs album cover
Rain Dogs album cover

Although the man who appears on the cover of the 1985 album Rain Dogs certainly looks a lot like Wates, it's not really him... Looking through the work of Swedish photographer Anders Peterson, Wates noticed this very image. He noticed how much this man looked like him and decided to buy this photo for the cover of his new album.

Notably, many fans also noted the uncanny resemblance between Wates and actor Ron Perlman.

He married Kathleen just two months after meeting her

Tom Waits and his wife Kathleen
Tom Waits and his wife Kathleen

Still together, Wates and Kathleen Brennan first met while working on the film From the Heart. The girl was an assistant editor and Wates produced the soundtrack. The couple reportedly married in a chapel in Watts, Los Angeles, just two months after meeting. Today they have a wonderful relationship and three children!

While working as a waiter in a pizza parlor, Waits recorded customer conversations

Tom Waits as a young man...
Tom Waits as a young man...

In the late '60s, Waits got a job as a waiter at a pizza place in National City, California. To stay creative even at work, he recorded some of the unfamiliar conversations he overheard in the restaurant. Gathering a collection of phrases and ideas he liked, young Waits began to develop his unique style of storytelling, which later led his career to international fame!

He coined the word "surrural" to describe his music

The cover of the album Mule Variations by Tom Waits...
The cover of the album Mule Variations by Tom Waits...

In 1999 the album Mule Variations was released. It was a whirlwind of stories about rural life in the States with heavy Alan Lomax blues influences. Describing his new album, Thomas said it was "surrural"-a combination of the words "surreal" and "rural. The album has since sold over half a million copies worldwide.

He hates the Internet, calling it "robots...taking over the world."

Thomas Waits...
Thomas Waits...

When Waits' unreleased album Bad as Me leaked through Amazon in 2011, he criticized the Internet for ruining new music! In his video preview of the album, the musician said:

"Here's how I see it: if it's your birthday and I came in very early and started eating your cake, and maybe I opened all your presents and started playing with your toys, would you go along with that?"

In an interview with Pitchfork that same year, Waits said of the Internet:

"It's necessary, but it's not really part of my world. They're robots, aren't they? They're taking over the world. What is the computer's greatest enemy?"

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