Tom Waits

~ Person

Legal name: Thomas Alan Waits


Thomas Alan Waits (born December 7, 1949) is an American musician, composer, songwriter, and actor. His lyrics often focus on the underbelly of society and are delivered in his trademark deep, gravelly voice. He worked primarily in jazz during the 1970s, but his music since the 1980s has reflected greater influence from blues, rock, vaudeville, and experimental genres.

Waits was born and raised in a middle-class family in California. Inspired by the work of Bob Dylan and the Beat Generation, he began singing on the San Diego folk music circuit as a young man. He relocated to Los Angeles in 1972, where he worked as a songwriter before signing a recording contract with Asylum Records. His first albums were the jazz-oriented Closing Time (1973) and The Heart of Saturday Night (1974), which reflected his lyrical interest in nightlife, poverty, and criminality. He repeatedly toured the United States, Europe, and Japan, and attracted greater critical recognition and commercial success with Small Change (1976), Blue Valentine (1978), and Heartattack and Vine (1980). He produced the soundtrack for Francis Ford Coppola's film One from the Heart (1981), and subsequently made cameo appearances in several Coppola films.

In 1980, Waits married Kathleen Brennan, split from his manager and record label, and moved to New York City. With Brennan's encouragement and frequent collaboration, he pursued a more experimental and eclectic musical aesthetic influenced by the work of Harry Partch and Captain Beefheart. This was reflected in a series of albums released by Island Records, including Swordfishtrombones (1983), Rain Dogs (1985), and Franks Wild Years (1987). He continued appearing in films, notably starring in Jim Jarmusch's Down by Law (1986), and also made theatrical appearances. With theatre director Robert Wilson, he produced the musicals The Black Rider (1990) and Alice (1992), first performed in Hamburg. Having returned to California in the 1990s, his albums Bone Machine (1992), The Black Rider (1993), and Mule Variations (1999) earned him increasing critical acclaim and multiple Grammy Awards. In the late 1990s, he switched to the record label ANTI-, which released Blood Money (2002), Alice (2002), Real Gone (2004), and Bad as Me (2011).

Despite a lack of mainstream commercial success, Waits has influenced many musicians and gained an international cult following, and several biographies have been written about him. In 2015, he was ranked at No. 55 on Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time". He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011.

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1973Closing TimeTom Waits413
1974The Heart of Saturday NightTom Waits3.3511
1976Small ChangeTom Waits412
1977Foreign AffairsTom Waits4.57
1978Blue ValentineTom Waits3.510
1980Heartattack and VineTom Waits3.510
1983SwordfishtrombonesTom Waits4.6512
1985Rain DogsTom Waits4.117
1987Franks Wild YearsTom Waits511
1992Bone MachineTom Waits4.759
1993The Black RiderTom Waits36
1999Mule VariationsTom Waits4.59
2002Blood MoneyTom Waits511
2002AliceTom Waits57
2004Real GoneTom Waits59
2006Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & BastardsTom Waits11
2011Bad as MeTom Waits513

Album + Compilation

1981Bounced ChecksTom Waits1
1984Asylum YearsTom Waits5
1985Anthology of Tom WaitsTom Waits2
1991The Early Years, Volume 1Tom Waits24
1992The Early Years, Volume 2Tom Waits4
1998Beautiful Maladies: The Island YearsTom Waits3
2001Used Songs: 1973–1980Tom Waits2
The Early YearsTom Waits1

Album + Soundtrack

1982One From the HeartTom Waits and Crystal Gayle4
1991Night on EarthTom Waits53

Album + Live

1975Nighthawks at the DinerTom Waits3.6510
1988Big TimeTom Waits6
2009Glitter and Doom: LiveTom Waits6
2022After The FoxTom Waits1
2022Live in Boston @ Paradise Theater 1977Tom Waits1


1978SomewhereTom Waits1
1985Downtown TrainTom Waits1
1985In the NeighborhoodTom Waits1
198816 Shells From a Thirty‐Ought‐SixTom Waits1
1992Goin' Out WestTom Waits1
1993Heartattack and VineTom Waits1
1999Hold OnTom Waits1
2011Bad As MeTom Waits1

Single + Live

2022Table Top Joe (Live)Tom Waits1


2009LiveTom Waits1
2022Grave Diggers: Tom WaitsTom Waits1

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