From his distinctive growl famously described as “soaked in a vat of bourbon” to his experimental vaudeville musical style, Tom Waits is first and foremost a remarkable artist who immersively dabbles in songwriting, composing, acting and, of course, playing haunting songs. Though his trademark style is gruff, his most famous hits “Downtown Train” and “Jersey Girl” were made more universally popular when covered by prominent--and smoother voiced--rock stars Rod Stewart and Bruce Springsteen, respectively. Waits has always been comfortable with his relative obscurity, preferring the warm loyalty of his equally oddball fan group to the limelight offered by pop culture, while still occasionally enjoying dipping his toe in Hollywood. His unconventional sound hasn’t slowed his success, as his sold-out tours, Grammy awards and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame attest. Though currently not touring, Waits occasionally performs one-off concerts that are stripped down, intimate and interactive, with the singer-songwriter telling stories and speaking conversationally with the ticket holders. His last circuit, the Glitter and Doom Tour, finished in 2008, while his latest album, "Bad as Me," was released in 2011 with an accompanying music video for the title track offered in 2012.
Born and raised in Southern California, Tom Waits taught himself piano and developed a love for Mexican ballads while crossing the border with his Spanish teacher father. He signed with Asylum Records in 1972 and put out his first record, "Closing Time," a year later. The following three decades were filled with whiskey-tinged tours and jazzy, folk-rock albums with bizarre instrumentation, including "Small Change," "Swordfishtrombones" and "Rain Dogs," the last of which received rave critical reviews. During this period, he also appeared in films, including "The Outsiders," "Ironweed," "Bram Stoker’s Dracula" and "Coffee and Cigarettes: Somewhere in California." Awarded Grammys, nominated for an Oscar and welcomed into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011, there are very few areas of achievement Waits has missed, including publishing a book of poems in 2011 to benefit Redwood Empire Food Bank. Idiosyncratic, articulate and gruff, Tom Waits offers music and film as experience to his followers, as well as entertainment.